Texting Medical Orders Poses Risks

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Institute of Safe Medication Practices indicates risks such as abbreviations, autocorrection
Institute of Safe Medication Practices indicates risks such as abbreviations, autocorrection

(HealthDay News) -- Despite the popularity, convenience, and speed of texting medical orders, there are unique and alarming risks associated with the practice, according to a report published in Drug Topics.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) showed that more than half of the medication/patient safety officers and risk/quality managers polled do not believe that medical orders should be texted under any circumstances. However, 40 percent reported that the practice was acceptable only when using an encrypted device application. Overall, 26, 15, and 4 percent of physicians, nurses and pharmacists, and medication/patient safety officers and risk/quality managers, respectively, felt that texting should be allowed in any circumstance.

According to the ISMP, despite the popularity and convenience of texting, there are unique risks associated with texting orders, which result from the informal nature of texting, including abbreviated language, improper autocorrection, and orders without full patient names and a second unique identifier. Until safety issues have been identified and resolved, along with development of industry-wide clinical guidelines to ensure standardized, safe, and secure texting processes, the institute recommends against texting medication-specific orders.

"Leadership must establish and communicate policies on the texting of orders and take a strong stance on avoiding texted medication-specific orders at this time, until they can be safely introduced into health care through careful pilot testing and implementation plans," according to the article.

Reference

Vecchione A. The Dangers of Texting Medical Orders: What might seem like a convenient option has led to serious errors. Drug Topics. December 11, 2017.

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