In an effort to help end medical mistakes, one medical center in New York is employing a new method for patient check-in. Instead of having to show identification and insurance cards, and completing endless volumes of paperwork, a vein scanner will be used to verify the pattern of veins in the palm of a patient’s hand in advance of retrieving their personal information and health records from the information system.
The scanners use near-infrared waves to image a person’s palm and display the pattern of veins which is unique in every individual. The original palm scan is translated to a numeric code so that an actual image of the patient’s palm is not in the medical record. Subsequent scans are compared with the one on file in the patient’s records. Inputting the original scan takes less than a minute and palm scans taken thereafter happen in about a second.
To date, the hospital has spent a total of $200,000 to purchase and install 250 of the scanners in various hospital departments. More than 25,000 patients have had their palms scanned and stored in the system. At the present time, palm scans are not required and only about 1 percent of patients have refused to have the scan performed. The medical center sees about 1.7 million patients per year.
Nearly 98,000 people die each year as the result of errors made in the hospital. The new system should help cut down on the number of mistakes made by accurately identifying patients. Hospital patients such as those that come in through the emergency room do not even need to be conscious and can be quickly identified using the new technology.
Source: Geekosystem, “New York Hospital Uses Vein Scanners To Identify Patients,” Erin Podolak, July 29, 2011