While the patient sign-in sheet is used at the front desks of most clinicians' offices, many doctors do not have a clear understanding of its legal importance. Contrary to what the lay public may believe, it is not just
used to track a patient's arrival.1
The patient sign-in sheet protects the doctor. This important document proves the patient was in the office on a particular date. This is necessary to avoid any question of fraud from insurance companies, including Medicare and state programs, such as Medicaid. Also, a disgruntled patient may claim that he was billed for services rendered on a day he was not in the doctor's office. A report to a disciplinary board
because of such a claim can cause incredible problems.
Proof of the patient's presence cannot be achieved by any other method that is as simple and low-cost. Office notes, an appointment book with check marks next to a name, or even a signed patient's receipt, are not considered adequate proof, since they can be easily falsified. A sign-in sheet, on the other hand, preserves that patient's handwritten verification and the date of the office visit. To protect the
clinician, the patient's signature must appear on a sheet with several other patients' signatures bearing the same date.
While sign-in sheets are an important part of office documentation, it seems obvious that displaying the day's patient list is a clear violation of a patient's privacy and confidentiality. In addition, many patients are uncomfortable signing an open sign-in sheet.
The clinician faces a dilemma: We need the sign-in
sheet to protect us, but an open patient sign-in sheet, where patients' names can be viewed by all, violates patient confidentiality and privacy laws.
Confidential Patient Sign-In Systems from HIPAA Sign-In.com solve this problem and comply with states privacy laws and the new federal HIPAA laws that go into effect April 2003.
Protecting your patients' privacy with this new generation of sign-in sheets makes will be welcome in your office
as a long overdo improvement. They will make your patients more comfortable and show that you care while allowing compliance with federal and state privacy laws.