DMERCs OK stamped signatures

Sunday, December 7, 2003

December 8, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The DMERCS will begin accepting stamped physician signatures Jan. 1 for documents used in medical review. The new rule does not apply to CMNs.

The individual whose name is on the alternate signature method bears the responsibility for the authenticity of the information being attested to, according to a statement issued by Region D DMERC Medical Director Robert Hoover. The statement advises physicians to check with their attorneys and malpractice insurers in regard to the use of alternative signature methods.

All state licensure and state practice regulations continue to apply to stamped or alternative signature methods. Where state law is more restrictive than Medicare, the state law standard will be applied.

There is no change in the prohibition of signature stamps in Section D CMNs As stated on CMN forms, "Signature and date stamps are not acceptable.”

For other electronic medical records and Internet-based transactions, the DMERCs are issuing the following instructions to physicians:

- Never give out your password or user identification so that others may use your digital signature;

- Install time-limited screen savers that requires the user to “log on” if the keyboard or mouse are idle for a certain period of time;

- Avoid selecting passwords like “12345” or your social security number or phone number. It's best to choose a string of characters or numbers that's meaningful to you, but is not a recognizable word. For example, you can use a password like FSASYA, which is impervious to hackers, but is easy to remember with the phrase "Four Score And Seven Years Ago!"

- Change your password every 60 – 90 days

- Don’t store your password under your keyboard or near your computer.