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December 19, 1990

Nursing Homes and Fax Machines

Author Affiliations

Sewickley, Pa

Sewickley, Pa

JAMA. 1990;264(23):2996. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450230028023

To the Editor. —  A recent letter by Tangalos et al1 promotes facsimile (fax) transmission of medical orders and information to nursing homes. The authors state that they have found such transmission to be "efficient, error-free, and cost-effective." This may be so, but I am concerned that such transmission is not private.To transmit information using a fax machine, a number is dialed and the original paper inserted in the machine. The fax is then sent to the destination indicated by that telephone number. A misdial may send the fax to an unintended destination (such as an attorney's office). Since the fax machine uses a dedicated telephone line, this error in transmission may go undetected. Do the authors have a mechanism to document the time of transmission and the receipt of their orders?In some nursing homes, the fax machine is kept in the mailroom. Facsimiles are handled with