Electronic Physician Signatures

A Tuesday Tip subscriber emailed us to ask if Community Care Licensing (CCL) allows electronic physician signatures for medication orders/prescriptions. Fortunately, CCL provided guidance on this in the Summer 2010 Adult and Senior Care Update. Here is what they had to say:

California has been governed by the California Electronic Transactions Act since 1999. Civil Code Section 1633.2 of California law defines electronic signatures as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the electronic record.”

California law currently defines digital signatures as “an electronic identifier, created by computer, intended by the party using it to have the same force and effect as the use of a manual signature.” Government Code Section 16.5 states that digital signatures have the same effect as manual signatures, only if all of the following apply:

  • It is unique to the person using it.
  • It is capable of verification.
  • It is under the sole control of the person using it.
  • It is linked to data in such a manner that if the data were changed, the digital signature is invalidated, and
  • It conforms to regulations adopted by the Secretary of State.

Electronic signatures also include several consumer protections, which must be followed when the transaction involves a consumer (one who obtains “products or services which are used primarily for personal, family or household purposes”). Electronic signatures are legally accepted in California.

Physician e-orders, including physician e-signature are allowed provided all of the information required for a written order is included in the electronic transmission and all of the information required to identify the physician issuing the order is present in the transmission. The electronic orders shall be printed and placed in the resident’s file. The Evaluator Manual will be updated to provide guidance on electronic physician’s orders and signatures.

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