Patients should be asked to show their Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) card and photo identification when visiting a practitioner office.
The Importance Of Correct Patient Identification
Failure to correctly identify patients can lead to serious problems such as medication errors, as well as privacy breaches.
Positive patient identification is critical to ensure patient safety and protect patient data. According to industry research cited by RAND, 7-10% of registering patients are misidentified upon entry.
Patient mis-identification contributes to:
- 27% of radiation errors
- 29% of medication errors
- 5% of wrong-patient/wrong-site surgeries
- 850 medical errors and 20 deaths related to blood transfusions
And, of course, we must deal with the administrative headache of privacy breaches and medical identity theft and duplicate patient records!
In Canada, health ministries have underscored the importance of correct patient identification when they issue Patient Safety Alerts. Correct patient identification criteria is also included in Accreditation Canada standards.
Verifying patient information improves patient care and efficient business practices.
- Care – Good patient care starts with correct patient identification. Incorrectly identifying patients contributes to medication, transfusion, procedure and testing, errors.
- Good Documentation – Avoid incomplete, inaccurate, and duplicate patient records!
- Gatekeeper –Each caregiver has the responsibility to identify the patient before providing a health service. I think that the family physician has an added role and responsibility of the patients’ gatekeeper to additional health services to ensure that the documentation of patient identification is correct at the time of registration.
- Billing – Avoid rejected billing and re-work when you correctly identify the patient and record the data correctly the first time. Patient demographic information is best corrected while the patient is present at the clinic instead of trying to contact the patient after they leave the clinic.
- Uninsured Services – The practitioner will submit a claim to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan directly for all insured services provided. If a provincial health care card is not shown or the individual is not eligible for coverage, they may be asked to pay for health services before receiving them.
How To Correctly Identify Patients
Ask The Patient Questions – When a patient presents to register for a new or repeat visit, ask for at least two sources of patient identification. You may also request new patients to complete a new patient registration form.
Ask for Photo Identification – Photo identification will validate that the information and the image of the patient in front of you corresponds to the information from the patient and AHCIP. If there is a discrepancy, the best time to sort it out is when the patient is still at the clinic.
New Patient Registration Form (optional) – A paper form allows for discretion when asking for demographic information including date of birth, address, medications, Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, allergies, etc. This reduces overhearing the conversation from other patients and staff and can often improve workflow and reduce congestion at the reception desk.
Document – Record on the new patient registration form or the clinic note that the photo identification was reviewed and that the image matches the individual. Use a clinic note or other location in patient record that is used consistently in your healthcare practice. (Bonus Tip: You might be able to create a template clinic note in your EMR for this. Or, create a check list template of this and related tasks to be completed for each (new) patient registration.)
Enter the information into the patient demographic or EMR system. Use registration document standards to ensure consistent data entry.
Validate – the AHCIP # and the patient information is valid by using the Netcare parameter launch browser between the EMR and Netcare. This will also help to ensure that there are no data entry errors in the EMR. If necessary, assist the patient to complete a change of information form for AHCIP, or make an update entry in Patient Registry if you have appropriate access. If you don’t have access to the Netcare via browser or web sign-on, use the phone number to AHCIP for this purpose.
Don’t Photocopy The Photo Identification
You should record that you viewed the photo ID and verified, but do not record the unique number associated with the photo identification (for example, driver’s license number). Do not photocopy the photo identification.
Remember, we have a responsibility to collect the least amount of information necessary. Viewing photo id to verify the identity of the patient, is a reasonable step to ensure the safety of the patient and to prevent an error. Recording the drivers license number or photocopying the drivers license is not necessary to provide a health service and an unnecessary (and probably illegal) privacy and security breach.
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