Medicare to rescind lab signature requirement

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 11, 2011

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Physicians and clinical laboratories will not be subject to more stringent paperwork requirements for lab test orders, according to a June 30 proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Medicare agency has proposed rescinding a rule mandating that all orders and requisitions for clinical diagnostic lab tests be signed by the physician. The signature requirement took effect Jan. 1, but CMS decided not to enforce the policy after physicians and laboratories complained the policy could adversely affect patient care. Federal officials indicated early in the year that the mandate would be rescinded.

Organizations representing physicians and labs said the requirement would have increased the paperwork needed to order a test. Labs also would risk not getting paid for running tests based on unsigned orders.

Dozens of lawmakers also had urged CMS to rescind the signature rule.

"In medicine, our goal must be to cure the sick, not create headaches with medical red tape," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D, N.J.). "I'm glad [CMS] took the time to evaluate the impact of its policy regarding physician signature requirements and has determined that it's best to change course on its policy."

The rule is expected to be finalized after a public comment period ends on Aug. 29.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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