Biometrics for Patient Identification

Security Info Watch

Mohammed Murad

Medical facilities have little room for error when it comes to identifying patients. They must be identified with 100% accuracy to ensure healthcare teams provide the proper treatment based on a person's medical history.

Record-keeping challenges increase the possibility of misidentification; human error can lead to improperly entered data; and with thousands of names in most hospital digital records, it is not unusual for multiple patients to share a common name and date of birth. A Wall Street Journal article described how easy it is to mistake patients. One large Houston-area healthcare system reported having 138,000 patients with the same names and birthdates. Of those, 2,833 were named Maria Garcia – with 528 sharing the exact date of birth.

Demographic information, such as changes to patients' names and addresses, are not often updated immediately. It is not unusual to find duplicate records for the same patient. For example, a person may provide their given name on a first visit and use a nickname on a return appointment. In 2018, the American Health Information Management Association estimated...

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