Tuesday 26 September 2017

Be wary of texting test results!

The company which provides thousands of Irish GPs with cover in the event of being sued is warning about some of the pitfalls of texting
The company which provides thousands of Irish GPs with cover in the event of being sued is warning about some of the pitfalls of texting

Hospitals and GPs were quick to embrace text messaging to communicate with patients. Most are using them as convenient appointment reminders.

But now, the company which provides thousands of Irish GPs with cover in the event of being sued is warning about some of the pitfalls of texting.

For example, patients may change their mobile number, or their friends or family could read the message, said Dr Richard Stacey, legal adviser at the Medical Protection Society.

"You should also bear in mind that text messages do form part of the medical record and any text message exchanges should be recorded.

"They are also not an appropriate way to deal with complex clinical queries."

He gave two examples of where texting went wrong.

  • The first involved a 17-year-old student who feared she might be pregnant. The test was positive and the GP sent the message: "Please contact the surgery."

Several minutes later, the surgery received a call from her father who explained she left her mobile at home so he had picked up the text. He wanted to know if something was wrong.

  • A second cautionary tale involved a 44-year-old management consultant who had been having an affair and feared she had a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The message:"Test positive: please contact surgery" was sent by mistake to the phone of her husband, who was also a patient.

Design and dignity

The ward where Savita Halappanavar died more than two years ago has been chosen to benefit from a grant to upgrade its facilities.

The Irish Hospice Foundation is making the Design & Dignity grants available to a number of areas, including St Monica's gynaecology ward at University Hospital Galway where pregnant Savita was cared for. Nine hospitals around Ireland will benefit from grants totalling €500,000 which will help transform older and dated spaces, including family rooms, gardens and mortuaries.

St Monica's Ward is to receive €56,000. The grant will be used to create a single ensuite room used for the care of women experiencing pregnancy loss, and also gynaecological patients who are approaching the end of their life.

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