Ask HRC: Requirements for Verbal Medication Orders

April 30, 2019 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance


A Healthcare Risk Control (HRC) member recently asked for the following information and for references regarding requirements for verbal medication orders:

In our response, HRC provided ECRI Institute resources and referred to regulations and standards from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission and guidance from other organizations, such as the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP), and the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

Verbal medication orders should be used only in the most urgent situations, in which written or electronic communication is not feasible. Although the use of verbal orders can be an important, lifesaving communication tool during emergencies or procedures, the use of verbal orders outside of these situations can threaten the safety of patients because the receiver may not hear or understand the order accurately. A communication breakdown could contribute to a patient safety event. The HRC guidance article Communication...

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