Home Health & Hospice

Five Tips for Valid Physician Signatures

Homecare Insider, May 26, 2009

In a few months, the Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) will be reviewing homecare records. One topic of interest will be physician signatures. If the physician’s signature is not valid, any care provided based on that order was not authorized by a physician and it will be denied.

These tips will help ensure that physician signatures are valid, thereby protecting your agency’s payment.

• Do not accept plans of care or orders signed by anyone other than a physician of medicine, osteopathy, or podiatry. That means no signatures by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, even if countersigned by a physician.

 • Do not accept signature stamps on plans of care or orders.

 • Verify that the signature is that of a physician, not someone else signing the physician’s name. One way to do this: Obtain a signature card or the physician’s signature on another document and keep that on file. Periodically check signatures against that original and take action if there is a change.

 • Ensure that there is a date associated with the signature. Hopefully, the physician will date his or her signature; if not, the agency should stamp the plan or order with the date it was received. This date can prove that the agency did not submit the claim before it had received all signed orders and the plan of care.

 • Obtain proper physician authorization for services prior to providing care. This is a fundamental but frequently shortchanged requirement. There must be evidence in the record of the orders received: the physician and clinician involved, the date, and the details.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin providing RACs with information about homecare providers later this summer. Homecare DIRECTION is focusing on RAC-vulnerable topics, such as physician orders. There’s no better time to subscribe. For more details about this monthly newsletter — Click Here.