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Patient Identification Techniques

Correct patient identification is critical for an effective treatment process. Identification is the process of matching patients with the treatment plans and transmitting data on their identity without errors throughout the process. In the United States, an algorithmic approach to identification is widespread, and in some institutions, a biometric one (Riplinger et al., 2020). Patient identifiers include name, date of birth, address, telephone number, insurance number, and gender (Riplinger et al., 2020). The correct identification depends on the medical staff and the client receiving the service.

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Health facilities may have their own rules and steps for identifying the patient to be followed by nurses. According to the recommendations presented by Infection Prevention website (“Identify your patients,” n.d.), they can represent the following:

  • Explain to the patient the goals and importance of permanent identification;
  • Using at least two of the identifiers to confirm identity;
  • Ask the patient name and date of birth when issuing drugs;
  • Involve patients and their families to ask questions about treatment compliance;
  • Study the electronic identification systems used in the hospital and apply them.

Patients, in turn, should provide correct information on the identifiers mentioned above without using aliases or other people’s data.

Misidentification threatens patient safety, can bring financial problems, and issues in sharing data among medical institutions. Incorrect data can lead to errors in drugs’ use: their duplication, omission, or applying inappropriate medicine. Moreover, mistakes threaten with false test results and the need to repeat them, which, like additional treatment, brings financial costs (Riplinger et al., 2020). Mistakes also prevent the use of patient data from other facilities, which may be critical for diagnosis. Thus, identification is essential to treatment and depends both on medical personnel and patients.


Identify your patients. (n.d.). Infection Prevention and You. Web.

Riplinger, L., Piera-Jiménez, J., & Dooling, J. P. (2020). Patient identification techniques – approaches, implications, and findings. Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 29(1), 81–86. Web.

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