Communicating Medication Orders

June 3, 2020 | Health System Risk Management


The medication management process is complex, encompassing several phases, including managing drug formularies, and the procuring, prescribing, dispensing, administering, and monitoring of medications—all of which rely on effective communication among providers for accuracy and timeliness. Although the sheer number of drugs administered in healthcare facilities increases the likelihood that adverse medication events will occur, most health systems have implemented computerized provider order entry systems (CPOE), automated dispensing cabinets, barcode administration systems, and other technologies that help providers ensure accuracy and protect patients from medication errors and adverse drug events and reactions. For more information, see the guidance article Technology for Medication Safety; more specific recommendations are provided in the following guidance articles:

Despite this reliance on medication safety technology, some clinical circumstances lead to the use of other communication methods, such as verbal, texting, or hand-written orders. Although these methods may be prohibited or strongly discouraged by professional and regulatory organizations, research has shown that their practice remains entrenched across the care continuum.

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