Whether it's a routine appointment or admission, hospital visits/stays in Atlanta can cause stress. There may be concerns about test results or a surgical procedure. One thing most patients don't worry about is a mix-up with another patient, assuming that hospitals have sophisticated procedures in place to prevent such errors. But the reality is that it can and does happen. 

This type of negligence may stem from incorrect identification of the patient. But hospitals can avoid this preventable mistake by using the appropriate type of patient identifiers.

Ways a Hospital Can Verify a Patient's Identity

The following is a list of patient identifiers that could avoid a mix-up:

  • full name (including middle initial);
  • telephone number;
  • address;
  • date of birth;
  • medical record number;
  • Social Security number;
  • wristbands (extra step, include patient's photo); and
  • bar-coded armband.

Some hospitals take extra steps, such as color-coding armbands. It may help draw attention and identify specific conditions or needs (such as a fall risk patient).

One important thing to note is that hospitals shouldn't use a patient's physical location or room number as an identifier. Unlike the previous examples, these identifiers can change.

Having the proper types of identifiers in place is just one step in preventing a mix-up. The next step is using at least two of them at each point of care; for instance, when moving the patient to the x-ray room, verification is important. When preparing to administer medication, verifying the patient with two identifiers is again important.

Another example is when a new staff member becomes involved in care, he/she should verify the patient's identity by asking patients to actually provide the:

  • name;
  • date of birth; or
  • other identifiers rather than verifying with a yes/no response.

Failing to use the proper identifiers or having them and not using them can result in serious medical mistakes. Unfortunately, this happens too often and those who are harmed because of it may file a medical malpractice claims against the liable physician or hospital.

Discuss a possible lawsuit in Atlanta with Jason R. Schultz. Call 404-474-0804 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation.

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