Back to Basics - Patient Identifiers

PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

Wrong-patient errors continue to plague health care at every stage of patient care delivery. Confirming the identity of a patient for whom care, treatment and service is intended is at the core of delivering safe care. Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal 01.01.01 requires health care organizations to use at least two patient identifiers when providing care, treatment, and services. Acceptable identifiers may be the individual’s name, an assigned identification number, telephone number, or other person-specific identifier.

Here are some good reminders about verifying patient identity:

  • At least two patient identifiers must be used when administering medications, blood, or blood components; when collecting blood samples and other specimens for clinical testing; and when providing treatments or procedures.
  • Before the provision of care, treatment or services, two patient identifiers should be compared against a source document such as medication order, medication administration records, etc.
  • The “identifier” is always the person-specific information not the medium (i.e., source) on which the information resides.
  • A patient's room number or physical location is never to be used as an identifier.
  • Two identifiers can be from the same location (e.g., patient wrist band).
  • Identification that is electronically based (bar coding, RFID) that has two or more person-specific identifiers (not patient location or room number) is acceptable.

Every organization should have a written policy for patient identification and regularly review that policy with appropriate staff.

Included with today’s notice are example policies related to this important patient safety topic.

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