Texting Medical Orders Presents Serious Risks

The texting of medical orders remains a significant concern for patient safety. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) conducted a survey of readers from June through August 2017, to assess opinions about the texting medical orders in healthcare. The ISMP authors’ findings noted, “Respondents reported that the five most concerning risks associated with texted orders were associated with safety issues impacting order clarity, completeness and correctness, rather than information security, authentication or documentation issues.”

These five risks are:

  • unintended phone/device autocorrection;
  • use of potentially confusing abbreviated text terminology;
  • potential for patient misidentification;
  • misspellings; and
  • incomplete orders.

Although the technology of texting has become commonplace, the risk that it poses in healthcare precludes its use until such time as the associated safety and technological issues have been resolved. Additionally, The Joint Commission continues to ban the texting of medical orders in its accredited organizations, asserting that computerized provider order entry is the preferred method for submitting orders, as it allows providers to directly enter orders into the electronic health record.

To read an article from FierceHealthcare discussing the study findings, click here.

To read the ISMP Medication Safety Alert, click here.

To read The Joint Commission’s position on the texting of medical orders, click here.