EMR signature pitfalls could be a daily challenge with which you often deal. Check your answers against our experts’ advice to verify your group’s signature compliance.
Question 1: Some of our physicians use handwritten signatures on their charts and others prefer electronic signatures. Is either kind acceptable?
Answer 1: According to CMS documents, Medicare requires a legible identifier for services provided or ordered. The identifier — or signature — can be electronic or handwritten, as long as the provider meets certain criteria. Legible first and last names, a legible first initial with last name, or even an illegible signature over a printed or typed name are acceptable. You’re also covered if the provider’s signature is illegible but is on a page with other information identifying the signer (letterhead, addressograph, etc.). Also be sure to include the provider’s credentials. The credentials themselves can be with the signature or they can be identified elsewhere on the note.
Pre-printed forms might include the physician’s name and credentials at the top, side, or end. All qualify as acceptable documentation as long as the coder or auditor can identify the provider’s credentials. You can also use a signature log to back up your physician’s documentation. The log should contain each provider’s printed or typed name and credentials, along with their signatures and initials. You can reference the signature log in order to verify a note that contains an otherwise unidentifiable signature. This is an important resource when providers are signing notes that do not include their typed or pre-printed name.
Make sure that you update signature logs at least once a year. Create separate logs by provider (physicians, CRNAs, AAs, residents, etc.) to help simplify tracking. Stamped signatures don’t meet the CMS requirements. Because a signature stamp can be used…