The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will withdraw a requirement that laboratory requisition forms be signed by the ordering physician, according to two associations representing clinical labs.

CMS did not fully confirm the report but sent the following statement to Health Data Management: “CMS is taking another look at the policy and considering next steps.”

The physician signature is required under the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule and came under fire from members of the Congress with separate letters from the House and Senate sent to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick in recent days. Lawmakers expressed concern that the requirement would delay services and could result in patient harm. “Additionally, the proliferation of electronic medical records in the coming years has the potential to transform the process and documentation of orders and requisitions, offering CMS access to standardized documentation of the physician’s orders,” according to the House letter from 89 members. “However, challenges currently exist in the electronic ordering systems for lab tests, particularly as some physician systems do not interface with lab computer systems.”

According to the American Clinical Laboratory Association and American Association of Bioanalysts/National Independent Laboratory Association, top CMS officials told the associations on Feb. 11 that the requirement was deemed unworkable and would be rescinded before its April 1 effective date. ACLA, in particular, said word of the rescinding came directly from Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare Management within CMS., a laboratory and pathology news Web site, first reported the CMS decision.

--Joseph Goedert


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