(HealthDay News) — The legal issues surrounding text messaging by physicians need to be considered, according to an article published May 23 in Medical Economics.

Noting that many physicians feel the need to communicate with their patients via text messaging, the author of the article, Barry B. Cepelewicz, MD, JD, discusses legal issues relating to text messaging by physicians.

According to Cepelewicz, physicians do not take into account the fact that information they send and receive by text should be included in their medical records, and that protected health information in their text messages may not be accorded the necessary privacy and security protection. Text messaging confers significant privacy and security risks; for example, if a mobile device is lost or stolen. If physicians want to use text messaging, specific policies should be implemented. For example, only non-urgent information should be included in text messaging; there should be an authentication process; devices used for text messaging must be password protected; messages relating to treatment must be included in medical records and deleted from the mobile device; and the practice should inform patients about its text messaging practices.

“Text messaging is a very useful tool and one that your patients may increasingly expect you to use,” Cepelewicz writes. “If you choose to do so, you must consider the various risks and take appropriate measures to address them.”

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