Accreditation

Joint Commission shifts position on texting medical orders again

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, February 7, 2017

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The Joint Commission has reversed its position on the use of text messaging to send patient care orders, once again banning the practice months after saying they were acceptable

The original ban had been put in place in 2011 because at the time there were concerns over:
1.    Private medical information being sent through unencrypted texting services
2.    A lack of a way to verify who was actually sending the text

In the May 2016 Perspectives, the accreditor wrote that technology had improved enough so that the twin issues of verification and encryption weren’t concerns anymore. The announcement listed various conditions for appropriate text messaging platforms, policies, and procedures.

When announced, there had been some support for the ban’s repeal. A Medscape poll found that 74% of physicians and 66% of nurses strongly or somewhat favored the idea of texting medical orders. And a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that switching between paging to texting in a hospital cut its average length of stay by 0.6 days a month.

However, by June The Joint Commission and CMS announced that they were temporarily reinstating the ban while they worked on additional guidance. By December, The Joint Commission announced that it was placing the ban back into effect.

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