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Last Modified: 1/1/2021 Location: FL, PR, USVI Business: Part A, Part B

Avoidable CERT error FAQ

Q: What is the most common, avoidable CERT error? How can it be avoided?
A. One of the most common CERT errors is a missing or illegible signature in the medical record. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that providers of Medicare services comply with the signature legibility requirements outlined in the Medicare Program Integrity Manual, Chapter 3, Section external pdf file. The CERT contractor is required to assign a CERT error when a provider submits medical documentation with no signature, an illegible signature, initials, an unauthenticated electronic signature, or an unsigned typewritten signature.
Although the enforcement of this CMS requirement has caused a significant increase in CERT errors related to this compliance issue, this particular error can be easily avoided by meeting one of the following criteria:
Ensure that each medical record submitted for review includes the legible signature of the provider of services
If the provider’s signature is illegible, include a signature legend/log that clearly identifies the author associated with the illegible signature or initials
If an electronic signature is used, it must be authenticated, safeguarded to prevent misuse, and should be easily identifiable as an electronic rather than a typewritten signature.
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