Dear Colleagues, 

Don Berwick, former President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement coined the phrase "nothing about me without me". For me, that phrase is essential to understanding the relationship between the patient's perspective and their relationship with members of the health care team.

When we start our meeting with a patient and their family with positive patient identification I know that we improve patient safety and reduce the risk of misidentification. The right care for the right patient at the right time starts with ensuring that we have 'the right patient'.

Everyone at UHN has the responsibility to explain to patients the expectations set forth by Accreditation Canada regarding the use of two patient identifiers so our patients can participate in ensuring positive patient identification and patient safety. Patients may be curious or concerned about this practice of frequently checking their identity because it may appear that staff cannot remember who they are so new signs and a patient education brochure will be distributed to patient care areas next week to support you with this education process.

UHN's policy indicates which patient populations require identification bands and which patients do not. Currently identification bands are used predominantly in our inpatient population areas and some ambulatory settings in order to identify patients, whose medical condition may change, thus rendering them incapable of self-identifying. The information from the identification band - Medical Record Number (MRN) and full name, needs to be checked against a second source i.e. specimen collection labels, requisitions, etc. when performing procedures.

When UHN policy does not require an identification band, you must ask p​atients to verbally confirm who they are, using two identifiers. The two identifiers at UHN that are used to verify patient identities are: 1) Medical Record Number (MRN) and full name, or 2) full name and date of birth (DOB).

Thank you for keeping our patients safe and for asking participating in positive patient identification.


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