Electronic health records: what does your signature signify?
Risk Management Consultant, COPIC, Inc.; Associate Clinical Professor, Dept. of Family Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 5195 E Weaver Dr, Centennial, CO, 80121-3500, USA
Patient Safety in Surgery 2012, 6:20 doi:10.1186/1754-9493-6-20Published: 13 August 2012
Electronic health records serve multiple purposes, including clinical communication, legal documentation, financial transaction capture, research and analytics. Electronic signatures attached to entries in EHRs have different logical and legal meanings for different users. Some of these are vestiges from historic paper formats that require reconsideration. Traditionally accepted functions of signatures, such as identity verification, attestation, consent, authorization and non-repudiation can become ambiguous in the context of computer-assisted workflow processes that incorporate functions like logins, auto-fill and audit trails. This article exposes the incompatibility of expectations among typical users of electronically signed information.