Are you the correct patient?

As with the aviation industry, redundancy in medicine is essential. To ensure the safest care is provided to the patient, critical steps in medicine often contain secondary and tertiary checks. One such critical step, and perhaps the most basic, is ensuring we have the correct patient prior to administering care.

Wrong-patient errors continue to occur in virtually all stages of diagnosis and treatment. While much of the attention is centered on highly publicized events such as wrong site surgery and the administration of wrong medication, a more subtle and equally hazardous impact can occur as a result of documenting health information in the wrong medical record, not verifying patient information when submitting specimens for evaluation, as well as a host of other situations that are commonly encountered in routine outpatient care.

To mitigate the likelihood of a wrong-patient scenario, The Joint Commission has mandated that health organizations will use at least two patient identifiers when providing care, treatment, and services—the Air Force Medical Service has determined that the two patient identifiers will be the patient’s full name and date of birth. The previous method of simply checking one’s Common Access Card has not been reliable and adverse events have occurred due to mistakes associated with same or similar names. 

Verification of full name and date of brth has proven to be a more sound approach and serves two purposes; first, to reliably identify the individual as the person for whom the service or treatment is intended; second, to match the service or treatment to that individual. 

As we strive to provide the safest care possible, patients presenting to the 75th Medical Group can expect to have their full name and date of birth regularly verified during their visit. This simple task will significantly decrease the likelihood of a wrong-patient error and ensure the safest care is provided to our patients. If your full name and date of birth are not verified when you encounter a new healthcare provider or present to a new clinical area, speak up! Please remind our staff to properly verify your identity.

Questions or concerns regarding Patient Identification can be directed to steven.small.6.ctr@us.af.mil.