Citing Patient Safety Risks and Infrequent Encryption, ISMP Calls for Ban on Text Orders

December 13, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Although a third of respondents to an Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) survey—including more than half of risk managers and patient safety officers—said that medication orders should never be sent by text message under any circumstances, the practice is common and often fails to incorporate encryption technology, according to survey results. Of more than 770 respondents to the survey (including pharmacists, nurses, physicians, patient safety officers, and risk and quality managers from acute, ambulatory, and long-term care settings), only 48% stated that they had received texted orders that used an encrypted device or technology, and only 24% stated that all text orders they had received in the past year were encrypted. Although more than half (53%) of respondents knew of a policy prohibiting texted orders at their facilities, 45% of pharmacists and 35% of nurses stated that orders are regularly texted regardless of facility policy, and no physicians reported awareness of such a policy at all.

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