From Patient Safety Officer Deborah Riley, M.D., and Director, Patient Safety, Lisa Brosey, DNP, RN

DID YOU KNOW … that misidentifying patients can result in the wrong tests, wrong blood work, wrong procedures and wrong medications?

To correctly identify patients, we all need to do the following:

  • Actively ask patients for their name and date of birth. (Yes: “What is your name and your date of birth?” No: “Are you Mr. Smith?”)

  • Ask patients for this information with every transition, medication, blood draw, procedure, test, etc.

  • Use two identifiers -- name and MRN -- when confirming information over the phone with the laboratory, radiology, admitting, other units, etc.  Never use a room number as the sole identifier for our patients!

  • Provide and request a read-back and verify on every critical test results communication.

  • Barcode scanning is NOT simply for documentation. It is necessary for ensuring safe medication administration.

  • MYTH BUSTER:  It is not a HIPAA violation to use a patient’s name in the hallway when talking with another caregiver.  It is best to say, “Mr. Jones in Room 11 is ready for his test,” rather than “Room 11 is ready…”

Please make patient identification an “Always Event”! By using two identifiers, we give our patients the proper treatment at the proper time, every time.

If you have questions regarding this alert or any other issues related to patient safety, please contact the Patient Safety Office or leave a voicemail suggestion or concern on the 24/7 Patient Safety First Line, 544-4040.

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