The Joint Commission, CMS ban secure text messaging use for care orders: 4 key notes

After allowing physicians to use secure text messaging to send care orders, The Joint Commission and CMS are revising their position and are banning the practice.

Here's what you should know.

1. The Joint Commission originally banned the practice in 2011. In May 2016, The Joint Commission released a statement stating that technology was fully able to allow for the secure texting of patient care orders.

2. After further examining the technology and the circumstances surrounding texted care orders, The Joint Commission reconsidered its position and partnered with CMS to release a general set of guidelines prohibiting secure texting.

3. The Joint Commission and CMS consulted with several vendors before they determined "that the impact of secure text orders on patient safety remains unclear."

They identified several issues including:

  • Texting would create a burden on nurses who would have to transcribe text orders into an EHR.
  • Texting creates an unnecessary step where the care provider would have to call the physician to clarify the text message order.
  • If a symptom arises or a patient is in need of a follow-up process to the initial order, texting once again creates an unnecessary extra step that can be avoided through a vocal care order.

4. The two organizations permitted the use of verbal care orders in the place of written orders.

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