(BPT) – There’s only one you. But sometimes your name or some of your personal information is so similar to someone else’s that doctors’ offices or hospitals can have a hard time identifying your records correctly. It’s a dangerous and costly problem that can lead to missed diagnoses, inappropriate treatments or unnecessary tests, as well as making it difficult for your doctor to share information with your other health care providers.
A solution? A patient identifier that makes sure your unique health records accurately represent you. That’s why the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the national organization of health information management professionals, has started an online petition asking for a voluntary patient safety identifier. A voluntary patient safety identifier is something you could create and would allow medical systems to recognize you quickly and accurately when accessing your information. It will help ensure all your health information is kept together and is complete, all the while remaining under your control.
The petition will encourage our leaders in the federal government to engage with experts in the private sector who have experience in accurately identifying people, as they do in banking and other financial businesses, along with security experts. With 80 percent of doctors and 97 percent of hospitals currently using an electronic health record, having a way to accurately and safely exchange information can make health care more safe and effective.
“The voluntary patient safety identifier — created and controlled by patients — will be a complete and positive game-changer in health care in terms of patient safety, quality of care and financial consequences,” says AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “We encourage patients, health care professionals and the public to think about patient safety and sign our online petition. We want to make health care safer, more efficient and more effective for everyone.”
The challenge of accurate patient identification is illustrated by a study conducted by the Harris County Hospital District in Houston, which found that, among 3.5 million patients, there were nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same last name, first name and date of birth. Among these were 2,488 different patients named Maria Garcia and 231 of those shared the same birth date.
That’s why people from across the country are supporting a petition that asks the Obama administration to join with the private sector to discuss a voluntary patient safety identifier. Please add your name to the list — it’s time.