The Joint Commission Reverses Its Position on Texting Medical Orders

Click here to access ISMP’s update on risks related to texting medical orders.

On December 22, 2016, the Joint Commission (JC) issued a clarification reversing its position on the texting of medical orders.  This is contrary to its May 2016 position where it approved the use of secure platforms for texting, as long as specific criteria were met.  In collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the JC has made several new recommendations:*

  • All healthcare organizations should have policies prohibiting the use of unsecured text messaging – that is, short message service (SMS) text messaging from a personal mobile device – for communicating protected health information.
  • The Joint Commission and CMS agree that computerized provider order entry (CPOE) should be the preferred method for submitting orders as it allows providers to directly enter orders into the electronic health record (EHR).
  • In the event that a CPOE or written order cannot be submitted, a verbal order is acceptable.
  • The use of secure text orders is not permitted at this time.

The JC and CMS will continue to monitor advancements in technology to determine whether text messaging systems will be a viable option in the future. Click here to read the JC’s clarification of its position.

*Quoted directly here from the JC’s clarification