Photo ID’s Help Reduce Medical Mistakes

On June 5 2012, Reuters published an article about the usage and proposed integration of photo ID’s as part of a hospital’s patient records. The point of the article was to cover both minor and major medical mistakes that occur in hospitals and on the operating table due to human error and/or when checking in patients. The article suggested and provided evidence for the fact that including photo ID’s in patient records significantly reduced such errors.

For example, on April 28, 2011, CNN covered a story of an Oregon hospital that performed a surgery to correct a young boy’s lazy eye on the wrong eye. According to Reuters, “In 2009, a quality-improvement program at Children's Hospital Photo ID Help Reduce Medical MistakesColorado found that such misplaced orders were the second-most common reason that patients received care not meant for them.” That hospital adopted a new policy integrating an “order verification screen” whereby a photo ID of the child was included in the child’s records. 3 incidents of care received for wrong patients were reported in 2011, and in all three cases the child’s records did not include a photo ID, and ID cards typically take the form of either PVC cards, proximity cards or pre-printed cards.

Dr. Daniel Hyman, lead researcher on the new study at the Aurora, Colorado hospital, says that the hospital adopted the policy by integrating digital cameras and photo ID software, which were used to take childrens’ photos as they were admitted to the hospital. Hyman commented that the “technology needed is relatively inexpensive.”

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