Validate patient info at registration

Reduce threat of identity theft

Registrars at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, TX, are using a tool to validate a patient's identity using name, date of birth, address, and social security number during the registration process, reports Na Toshia Joseph, manager of patient access services/quality and process improvement.

"Utilizing this tool has helped with minimizing the threat of identity theft and the possibility of a HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] breach," she says.

Registrars are required to use secured shred bins for all documents containing protected health information (PHI), she adds. "Unfortunately, there are unique situations in which patient access could potentially provide PHI unintentionally," says Joseph. She gives these examples:

• Patients with the same name, or same date of birth, might have the same insurance carrier.

Prohibit the staff from overriding patient demographic information, advises Joseph. "Staff are required to validate all responses received from our validating patient identity tool before making any changes to the registration," she adds.

The hospital's Admit/Discharge/Transfer system warns registrars if there is a patient existing in the system with a social security number they are trying to use for a different patient, she adds.

"This should always prompt the registrar to ask more questions of the patient," she says.

• Patients might receive registration paperwork and face sheets that belong to another patient.

A busy registrar might inadvertently give the wrong paperwork to the patient, says Joseph, who adds that the department has taken several steps to be sure this mistake doesn't happen.

First, registrars are required to review all signed consent forms before giving the patient a copy. Also, registrars are allowed to give the patient only the face sheet during the registration process to confirm the accuracy of the data entered.

"We are prohibited from giving patients face sheets to keep for their records," says Joseph.