To prevent identify theft, patient access leaders conduct Red Flags Rule training annually at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, CA.

“This is done with an online learning module as part of the staff competency validation process,” says Edward Din, director of patient access.

If any of these red flags occur, registrars immediately notify a patient access supervisor:

  • a patient providing photo identification that doesn’t match the patient;
  • a patient providing a different Social Security number than one used on a previous visit;
  • a patient providing information that conflicts with other information in their record;
  • a patient providing information that conflicts with information received from third parties, such as insurance companies;
  • a patient providing an address that the department’s software determines is not a valid address;
  • family members or friends calling the patient by a name different than that provided by the patient at registration.

Recently, registrars encountered a situation that wasn’t covered by any of these red flags. Law enforcement arrived at the ED with a patient who sustained an injury during an altercation.

“The patient was in restraints and unable to sign in, nor provide any valid ID, nor scan her finger,” Din says.

Registrars had to depend on the information provided by police officers, and entered the patient’s supposed name and date of birth.

“The information provided to law enforcement and then passed onto registration was found to be incorrect,” Din recalls. “This was a learning opportunity for us.”

The mistake was discovered when the hospital was notified by the patient, who was trying to clear her name in court. Din says either of these things would have prevented the error:

  • Finger-scanning the patient once the medical screening exam required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act was completed. This could have been done once the patient was no longer restrained, Din offers, prior to the patient’s departure from the ED.
  • Checking the EHR instead of the master patient index before the start of the registration. “The EHR indicated a patient with the same name, but a different date of birth and visit history,” Din explains.


  • Edward Din, Director, Patient Access, Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, CA. Phone: (661) 862-4901. Email: