Health care is a hectic business. Medical professionals frequently have a long to-do list each day, and it can be easy for tasks to slip through the cracks or for mistakes to be made.
Ensuring that you’re giving the right treatment to the right person is a huge part of modern health care, and the process is being constantly improved through proper health information management. Professionals working in this space need to understand the importance of their role in patient identification, as well as what’s at stake if a mistake is made.
The Right Information Protects all Parties
Access to the right information is critical, whether to protect patients or to protect health care workers. Health information management is a core part of this. For example, litigation is unfortunately common in health care. One line of defense – both against lawsuits and any action that could eventually lead to a lawsuit – is a properly set up HIM system. This can help medical workers correctly identify patients and their needs and prevent mistakes, providing an additional tool in a litany of checks and balances.
Furthermore, a well-established HIM system can make the lives of medical professionals easier, helping them get through an already overloaded day. Naturally, HIM professionals are a vital piece of the puzzle as well, making this career path a valuable one in the medical field.
Proper Data Governance is Key
HIM professionals can mitigate the risks of an unfortunate case of mistaken patient identity. One of the best places to start is through proper data governance.
When a data structure is initially created, it can often be difficult to fully understand who will be using it and for what purposes. However, it’s absolutely vital to flesh out these details well before things get out of hand. In fact, a study published by the American Health Information Management Association found that data governance is one of the most crucial aspects of patient identification.
The report, which detailed the identification efforts of organizations across the world, discovered that the health care institutions that focuses on the importance of data governance did extremely well when it came to overall efficiency. Canada is touted as a leader in this respect, where “openness and transparency” were used to solve the problem of governance issues at the provincial level. The study’s authors stated that setting up proper data governance frameworks at the beginning of a project is absolutely necessary in identification efforts.
Identify a Patient Before Starting Treatment
Outside of the actual governance of the medical data, it also might be a good idea to create a system in which employees cannot move forward with treatment without fully identifying the patient first. It is important for medical professionals to identify a patient to make sure correct treatment is administered – for example, a patient may be alone and in a poor state of mind. This calls into question the veracity of their testimony without a corroborating source.
One solution is bar coding. This is where the patient is given a printed bar code when admitted that other medical professionals can quickly scan to get the person’s information. If properly implemented, this practice can reduce the number of medical mistakes that arise from misunderstanding who the patient is. This practice is increasingly common in hospitals and urgent care centers across the country.
While bar coding is important, it can also be used in conjunction with internal data storage systems to further prevent misidentification. When a patient is admitted, a medical professional generally has to check their history and other pieces of information. When this happens, it’s a good idea to simply force the user to verbally check everything with the patient before a bar code is created. This could even go so far as to give a list of basic questions to ask that would allow the worker to quickly confirm the patient’s identity.
Train Patients on How to Access Their Information
Finally, HIM professionals should not forget about the importance of patients staying active and involved in their own treatment. Engaged patients who feel like treatment is a collaborative affair may be more active and positive – a benefit to both them and their doctors.
For example, patients can very often save themselves from unnecessary treatments if they’re engaged. According to a report published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one man saved himself from needless chemotherapy by assessing his treatment procedure. This penile cancer patient brought up the fact that he had never had a fourth day of chemotherapy before when a nurse came to administer treatment. Following a discussion with the patient, his oncologist discovered that the person had been receiving the wrong regimen for the past three days.
While listening to a doctor’s advice is a good idea, it’s also important for patients to stand up for themselves when they think something has gone wrong. By getting involved and educated about their conditions through digital medical resources, patients can be better prepared to engage in their own treatments.