what is considered a timely signature?

trarut

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We're having a spirited debate about what constitutes a timely signature on a visit note. The only guidance I can find is from CMS and simply states "...You may not add late signatures to orders or medical records (beyond the short delay that occurs during the transcription process)..." Our local MAC only covers what constitutes a valid electronic signature and not how they define a timely signature. Personally, I have always thought 30 days was a reasonable period but have no idea if I made it up or heard it somewhere! So I have a few questions:

  1. Is anyone aware of specific number of days or time frame for a timely signature?
  2. And if you do, can you provide a link to references supporting it?
  3. If a late signed note is submitted to Medicare, will they reject it as invalid and recoup any monies paid for the associated charges?
Thanks in advance!
 

CodingKing

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Last i read was CMS does not provide any specific period, but a reasonable expectation would be no more than a couple of days away from the service itself.
 

trarut

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That's been my takeaway from what I've read as well. Still not sure where the 30 days that's stuck in my head came from!
 

Pathos

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CMS has not given a definite time period where the provider needs to sign their notes, however the longer the provider waits, the higher risk for scrutiny and legibility by a future auditor. If I was auditing a note, and saw that the provider signed the note several weeks after the DOS, I would start to question why and could ultimately end up denying the service. Best practice would be to have a specific practice policy in place which requires providers to have all services signed after X amount of time. I think 30 days is a bit long, and I agree with CodingKing that a couple of days at maximum is more acceptable.
 

trarut

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Thanks, Pathos. I was able to find a document from our local MAC last night that gives a 10 day time frame so I'll pass that on to my managers with the insights you've both provided and see where it takes me!
 
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