Electronic Signatures

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, signed by President Clinton in June, gives electronic signatures the same legal weight as paper signatures. Highlights of the law include the following: consumers must consent to the use of electronic signatures; consumers must be offered the choice of electronic means or pen/paper; and electronic signatures cannot be used to cancel health or life insurance benefits except for annuities. Digital signatures will also reduce paperwork and avoid phone tag with colleagues and other caregivers. However, because of possible inadequacies in security standards, physicians should be cautious. The law makes electronic signatures valid in all 50 states, but health care requires stronger security standards. For more information, visit www.ama-assn.org.