SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–Making the mistake of treating the wrong person is a horror story no hospital or patient wants to be a part of.
Statistics show there’s a 6 to 10% chance nationwide of hospitals having duplicate medical records. To decrease the chance of giving a patient the wrong treatment, CoxHealth Hospitals are implementing vein pattern readers.
When patients check in to the hospital, the first thing they will do is place their hand on a device that reads the vein pattern in their hand.
The roughly three second process links each patient’s palm vein to his or her medical record to avoid mix ups.
“I’m confident that it’s happened in every hospital in the nation,” says Jack Cole.
Jack Cole is Cox’s administrative director of information. He is referring to medical professionals who accidentally treat the wrong patient. While the chance of it happening is low, it’s a risk CoxHealth is not willing to take. Therefore, the hospital will be rolling out vein pattern readers.
“It’s so unique that identical twins do not have the same vein pattern,” says Cole.
“There’s a little camera in the very bottom of it, an infrared camera. It looks at the palm and all of the veins in your palm and your palm has to be all the way in there to do it,” says Charlotte Hale, Cox Hospital’s assistant director of admissions.
Hale says Cox checks in hundreds of patients per day; some with the same first and last name and birth date so the new technology is crucial in eliminating a potential fatality.
“There’s over 300 patients so it becomes a huge safety issue,” says Hale.
“I believe it will save lives. If you are enrolled into the system and you show up into the emergency room and you don’t have any ID and your unconscious or you’re unable to identify yourself, they will be able to scan your palm and know exactly who you are,” says Cole.
In addition to saving lives, the palm readers can help you save money. With identity theft running rampant, Cole explains how the new technology will combat medical fraud.
“If I had my insurance card stolen and someone came to the hospital and they said I’m Jack Cole and here’s my insurance card, they could be enrolled with my information. However, if I’m enrolled in the system with patient secure, that can’t happen so this will stop medical record theft,” says Cole
The palm readers cost $600,000 and will be in all Cox Hospitals by this fall, but patients must be enrolled in the Cox security system in order for the readers to be applicable.