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Pre-programmed numbers on fax

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Is it recommended to pre-program commonly used phone numbers to the fax machine to avoid human error in dialing and PHI released inappropriately?

Categories : Provider Posts


  1. Frank Ruelas says:

    In my opinion, safeguards that can be put into place to help minimize the introduction of human error are certainly a good thing.

    The important steps here include verifying that the number is correct, programming the number correctly, and then steps to validate that the number on an ongoing basis.

    I think it is easy to support that the use of preprogrammed numbers helps minimize unauthorized disclosures due to misdialed fax numbers.


  2. Paulo Pereira says:

    Personally, I have my reservations concerning pre programming fax numbers. Pre-programmed numbers usually requires users to scroll through them and pick the one they want to use. What if during this process the user “picks” the wrong number by selecting one above or below in the list? What if the pre programmed number is no longer in service or was changed between the period the list was last reviewed/updated? To me, the safest method is manually dialing the number and verifying its accuracy by looking at the fax machine LCD display prior to starting the transmission.

  3. Frank Ruelas says:


    The beauty of this question is that there is no right or wrong answer. I myself would find that there would likely be more errors in staff inputting numbers than scrolling and picking a pre programmed name.

    But again…one opinion of many.

    As I always share with folks…it is not uncommon to “what if” a scenario such that one can somewhere down the “what if” path find a problem area.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Eric Merkel says:

    I am of the opinion that using pre-programmed numbers will reduce the chance of errors, but not eliminate them completely. I think it is very remote that someone could transpose a digit while manually entering it into a fax, and then actually reach another fax machine by mistake. But this type of error has been “reported” to have happened.

    My company has a security policy recommendation for fax use. Faxes cannot be sent unless the number is programmed into the fax machine. No manual faxing period. The programming step gives the user a second chance to check if number is correctly entered. This does take extra time, but worth the effort.

    Now if the user selects the incorrect number from the pre-programmed list – then at least they will know who it went to, and most likely it is just another pharmacy or insurance company that they are already doing business with and have a BAA setup.

  5. Frank Ruelas says:


    Thanks for sharing. In my view of the world, the people factor often is the greatest gap where errors are introduced into processes.

    So if you can reduce the people factor, you also reduce the introduction of an error.

    Go figure…


  6. Stephanie says:

    Reducing the people factor that is the key whether it be a scrolling or dialing issue. People just simply make mistakes. Until the entire health care delivery system is replaced by robots we will have error – which is something the average lay person just doesn’t understand.

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