Swing Bed

What is a Swing-Bed?

The term “swing bed” refers to a hospital bed in small, rural hospitals that can be used to transition a patient from acute care to skilled rehabilitative services within the hospital. It means that a patient can stay within the same facility, same room, and same bed from their acute stay through dismissal from the rehabilitation experience in swing bed.

The purpose of swing-bed care

A hospital that can transition from acute care to SNF care allows a patient to stay in one place without having to move between hospitals, and nursing facilities, or go back and forth between home and important appointments. It is an especially important service in rural areas because it increases Medicare patient access to this type of care.

Qualifying for swing-bed care

Swing bed facilities that are incorporated into the SNF-protected payment system will cover all costs associated with care under Medicare Part A. However, the patient must meet certain criteria:

  • The patient must be required to receive acute hospital care for at least three consecutive days before SNF care in a swing bed is an option.
  • The patient must be stable and require daily skilled care, or rehab that is required five days a week.
  • A physician’s authorization is needed, and the patient must participate in Medicare Part A or another insurance plan that will cover the costs of swing-bed care.

What kinds of services are included in swing-bed care?

A swing-bed can provide a complete range of skilled nursing care services that include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • IV medication therapy
  • Monitoring of vital signs
  • Wound care
  • Speech Therapy

Length of stay

Swing-bed care is not meant to be a permanent care solution. Hospital policies limit the amount of time that can be spent on-location in a swing bed.

In general, most stays only last a few weeks. Most hospitals don’t allow stays that go beyond 40 days. If more long-term care is needed, the physician will discuss other options that may include in-home care or a transfer to a long-term care facility.