For all the reasons you might have a claim denied or delayed, an illegible signature is one you surely can avoid.
A signature log can help speed your claims through payment, and it serves as a risk management tool, too. A signature log is simply a listing with an example signature of each physician and midlevel professional in your practice.
The log serves as a reference for payers, other staff, auditors, and potentially a court. A good log contains the provider’s name typed or printed clearly, a notation of the person’s credentials (MD, DO, PA), a sample of his or her legal signature with credentials, and samples of the person’s signature variations that might appear on a medical record (such as initials). You can compile all this into a chart or keep individual logs.
The Medicare Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) program has identified illegible signatures as a common error on Medicare claims. While a printed signature below the illegible one on the original record may be acceptable, the CERT (or other) auditor may ask you to submit a signature log or attestation statement to identify the illegible signature. The latter is a statement signed and dated statement from the owner of the illegible signature that signature indeed is his or hers. The statement needs to include enough information to identify the beneficiary.
You can avoid delays in the completion of a claims review by including a signature log or signature attestation when you submit documentation.
For more information, read Complying with Medicare Signature Requirements (PDF), a new Q&A fact sheet from Medicare.
Need coding and documentation help? TMA’s certified professional coders and auditors will review your coding and medical record documentation to determine whether your practice is following payers’ guidelines for appropriate billing. To find out more, contact TMA Practice Consulting at (800) 523-8776 or email@example.com.
Published Oct. 29, 2012
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