PRP INSIGHTS: PATIENT IDENTIFICATION VERIFICATION IN HOSPITAL PHARMACIES
Patient identification verification refers to the matching of a patient to an intended treatment. It is a key activity performed by all healthcare professionals in a hospital setting. Risk to patient safety occurs when there is a mismatch between a given patient and the pharmaceutical care intended for him or her, whether the care is in the form of dispensing a medication, monitoring a patient’s drug therapy or something as simple as discussing or requesting a patient’s information over the phone.
To ensure patient safety and reduce medication errors, the College’s Board and Practice Review Committee identified Patient Identification Verification as a focus area for the Pharmacy Professionals Review component of the Practice Review Program. As proper identification of a patient significantly reduces the potential for errors to occur, Compliance Officers will be looking for evidence that at least two person-specific identifiers are checked prior to providing pharmacy services. All hospital registrants (pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) undergoing a Pharmacy Professionals Review are expected to demonstrate compliance to the current College standards on patient identification verification, which was developed based on the Required Organizational Practices from Accreditation Canada.
According to Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act Bylaws, all registrants must “take reasonable steps to confirm the identity of a patient, patient’s representative, registrant or practitioner before providing any pharmacy service”. Furthermore, the Health Professionals Act Bylaws Part 2 (Hospital Pharmacy) state that “unless dispensing to staff, outpatients or the general public…all registrants must use at least two person-specific identifiers to confirm the identity of a patient before providing any pharmacy service to the patient”. Registrants providing pharmacy service to the general public or outpatients are expected to follow Professional Practice Policy-54 for community pharmacies.
As per Professional Practice Policy-75, acceptable person-specific identifiers include:
- Patient’s full name,
- Patient’s home address (when confirmed by the client or family),
- Patient’s date of birth,
- Patient’s personal identification number or hospital/institution account number,
- Patient’s Personal Health Number (PHN),
- An accurate photograph of the patient.
In settings where there is long-term or continuing care and the registrant is familiar with the patient, one person-specific identifier can be facial recognition. According to Accreditation Canada, the provision for “continuing care” only applies to settings like home care, long-term care, community health and residential care. It does not apply to any hospital acute or subacute care settings.
The patient’s room or bed number is not person-specific and must not be used as an identifier.
Patient identification verification is a fundamental standard to ensure that the right patient is provided with the right medication and the right clinical pharmacy service. By using at least two person-specific identifiers, the public will have confidence that the treatment, care activity or medication being administered is meant for them.