Preventing Patient Identification Errors
It is highly recommend that medical assistants utilize two unique patient identifiers before performing any
procedure, drawing blood, or administering medications, or vaccines. The most reasonable method is to
identify patients by their first and last name and their birth date. Furthermore, medication errors can be
prevented in a number of ways:
If a practice has more than one patient with the same or similar name, then the medical assistant can mark the
chart, visibly highlight the birth date and annotate the name with an allowed nick name, etc. to avert potential
confusion. Also, by making the patient him- or herself an active partner in setting their own health and treatment
goals further errors can be prevented. If the doctor discusses treatment options with the patient and it is agreed
that only oral medications will be prescribed then the patient might realize something isn't right when an
injection is drawn up and question an injection before he/she receives it.
Another area of concern for patient safety is the tracking of laboratory test results from outside reference labs,
pathology specimens and imaging. A paper-based system should include a test tracking log in the medical
chart of each patient, with the name of the test ordered, when the results were received, and when notification
was given. Each time a test result comes in it is the medical assistants responsibility to pull the matching
patient chart, attach the results on top of it and present it to the doctor for review and further recommendations.
This approach will inform the doctor and decrease the risk that a critical result will be missed or delayed.