Identity theft is a big issue right now. People are having their lives turned upside down by having their financial records compromised. Imagine having your medical records compromised as well.Patients are having their medical safety endangered when their stolen identity got to the hospital ahead of them. Picture this:
- The thief receives treatment in someone else’s name
- The real person shows up at the hospital and their (fake) record is already on file
- thief has no allergies, real person does and has an anaphylactic reaction — Surprise!
HIPAA has become the bogeyman of the health care profession, used to scare medical professionals in to compliance with confidentiality practices. I’ve never heard of the identity theft card brought in to the discussion, though. This is a very important issue for some at risk patients who may not be able to immediately identify a dangerous discrepancy.
Some tips to avoid mixing up patients:
- Don’t assume the prior nurse or the admission clerk got it right
- Verify as much information with the patient as you can
- Double check allergies each time a new medication is ordered
- Prior to procedures, check past medical history for prior procedures or surgeries