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2. Identification of the patient

2.1 Under supervision, the non-registered workforce may identify the patient in accordance with local policies and protocols. Typically this would be using the well established three-point patient identification procedure (first name, last name, date of birth) developed as a requirement for employers under IR(ME)R regulations [Regulation 4 (1) Schedule 1 (a)]3.

The non-registered workforce should ensure that the patient actively responds to identification questions.

The non-registered workforce should confirm with the patient that the requested examination corresponds with the patient’s clinical history i.e. check symptoms in case the wrong patient identifier has been attached to the request form.

Where possible, the NHS Number should always be used in conjunction with other verifiers when identifying a patient8,9.

Between June 2006 and the end of August 2008, the National Patients Safety Agency (NPSA)  received over 1,300 reports of incidents resulting from confusion and errors about patients’ identifying numbers. Many of these involved duplication in local numbering systems, for example, two patients having the same number, or one patient having more than one number8.

There may be exceptions where it may not be possible or may be difficult for the patient to be directly identified, for example, mute or non-English speaking, unconscious,  children. The employer will have clearly documented procedures in place to cover these eventualities.

Annual and quarterly reports from the HCC (CQC) state in the annual report 2009 that “a significant cause of notifications continues to be radiological examinations involving the wrong patient, an issue that was identified in last year’s report. These include exposures that have been incorrectly referred from clinics and wards and those where the patient has not been correctly identified within the radiology department itself”10 and in the 1st Jan -31st March 200911 report in relation to CT examinations, an ‘increase in errors involving porters collecting the incorrect patient, and more importantly, radiographers not following the patient identification procedure after collection’.

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