Signature Requirements

In the content of health records, each entry must be authenticated by the author. Authentication is the process of providing proof of the authorship signifying knowledge, approval, acceptance or obligation of the documentation in the health record, whether maintained in a paper or electronic format accomplished with a handwritten or electronic signature. Individuals providing care for the patient are responsible for documenting the care. The documentation must reflect who performed the service.

a. The handwritten signature must be legible and contain at least the first initial and full last name along with credentials and date. A typed or printed name must be accompanied by a handwritten signature or initials with credentials and date.

b. An electronic signature is a unique personal identifier such as a unique code, biometric, or password entered by the author of the electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) via electronic means, and is automatically and permanently attached to the document when created including the author’s first and last name, with credentials, with automatic dating and time stamping of the entry. After the entry is electronically signed, the text-editing feature should not be available for amending documentation. Example of an electronically signed signature: “Electronically signed by John Doe, M.D. on MM/DD/YYYY at XX:XX A.M.”

c. A digital signature is a digitized version of a handwritten signature on a pen pad and automatically converted to a digital signature that is affixed to the electronic document. The digital signature must be legible and contain the first and last name, credentials, and date.

d. Rubber stamp signatures are not permissible. This provision does not affect stamped signatures on claims, which remain permissible.

Documentation of Medical Services

Medical records are expected to contain all the elements required in order to file and substantiate a claim for the services as well as the appropriate level of care, i.e., evaluation and management service (see Policy Memo No. 2). Each diagnosis submitted on the claim must be supported by the documentation in the patient’s medical record.

The contracting provider agrees to submit claims only when appropriate documentation supporting said claims is present in the medical record(s) which shall be made available for audit and review at no charge.

Letters/checklists are not acceptable as documentation of medical necessity and do not replace what should be in the complete medical record. Abbreviations must be those that are generally accepted by your peers and clearly translated to be understandable to the reviewer.

2. BCBSKS has adopted the following standards for documentation of medical services.

Each patient’s health record shall meet these requirements:

a. Be legible in both readability and content.

b. Contain only those terms and abbreviations that are or should be comprehensible to similar providers/peers.

c. Contain patient-identifying information on each page to ensure pages are not lost or misfiled.

d. Indicate the dates any professional service was provided and date of each entry.

e. Contain pertinent information concerning the patient’s condition and justify the course of treatment. The record must document the medical necessity and appropriateness of each service.
f. Documentation of examination and treatment(s) performed or recommended (why it was done and for how long) and physical area(s) treated, vital signs obtained and tests (lab, x-ray, etc.) performed, and the results of each.

g. List start and stop times or total time for each CPT code/service performed on all timed codes per CPT nomenclature.

h. Document the initial diagnosis and the patient’s initial reason for seeking the provider’s care.

i. Document the patient’s current status and progress during the course of treatment provided.

j. Indicate the medications prescribed, dispensed, or administered, and the quantity and strength of each.

k. Include all patient records received from other health care providers if those records formed the basis for treatment decision by the provider.

l. Each entry shall be authenticated by the person making the entry (see Signature Requirements) unless the entire patient record is maintained in the provider’s own handwriting.
m. Each patient record shall include any writing intended to be a final record, but shall not require the maintenance of rough drafts, notes, other writings, or recordings once this information is converted to final form; the final form shall accurately reflect the care and services rendered to the patient.