One of the most common errors in the laboratory, besides from incorrect labeling of specimens, is the incorrect identification of patients. Personally, I believe that when in small things you commit a mistake, presumably that in more important things you will also commit one. Living in the perilous world of the healthcare profession, one should take note of the vital steps not just in the experimental works but also in the in the pre-experimental works (Patient identification, Specimen collection, Specimen identification, etc.) because it is where most of the errors begin.
Say for example, if you are ask to draw blood from patient whose name is Ann Antonio and just go on with the procedure without double checking on the information of the patient. You can’t always get rid of the probability of patients having the same name, not just your “real” patient will be on danger, and even the patient you have mistakenly drawn blood could possibly be in danger.
Listed below are the guidelines on the Proper Identification of Patients:
- If the patient is an inpatient at admission which is unconscious, you can verify on the information in the armband with the request form, which are commonly used today in most hospitals to identify their patient.
- If armbands are not available or if the patient is a walk-in patient, you should ask the patient of his/her complete name including the middle name, birth date, gender, and check on the requisition form. (Example. Ma’am may I please know what is your complete name? And not, Ma’am are you Ms. Sarah Gomez? Because the patient might not be in his proper senses and just simply say yes to any question that you have.
- (Taken from the Book of Henry's, Clinical Diagnosis And Management, page 1404) “If the patient is not lucid or if the proper identification is not on the patient (identification on the bed or in the room is not acceptable, since patients are moved without changing such identification), laboratory personnel should be instructed to seek positive identification by other persons who know the patient. Such identification should be documented on the requisition."
- You should always address a patient to Ma’am or Sir; this is done for courteous purposes.
- Always smile =), to make the patient feel comfortable and relaxed.
Additional reminders that could help… (From Louise Simmer’s, Introduction to Health Science Technology)
- "Once the patient is already identified never go on directly to the procedure, ask first for the patient’s consent, if the patient says no, never insist to do the procedure, one should confirm to the superior staff, because some procedures require written approval of the patient."
- "Never sign your name as a witness to any written document unless you are authorized to do so."
Louise Simmer’s, Introduction to Health Science Technology
Henry's Clinical Diagnosis And Management