FT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - With the start of a New Year, many people are talking about New Year resolutions and while few people include resolutions related to prevention of identity theft to their list, Medical Department Activity -- Alaska is suggesting you do just that.

MEDDAC-AK would like to see beneficiaries make an alternative to traditional resolutions by adding a resolution focused on the prevention of mistaken identity when receiving medical care such as using the tools in the "Speak Up" program. Think for a minute; "What happens when two different patients have the same name? Does the hospital have a process for proper patient ID confirmation at every step of clinical care?"

Ensuring the correct patient identification is a prerequisite to safe care, the Joint Commission has made accurate patient identification one of its National Patient Safety goals since 2003 when the first set of goals went into effect. One of the most important things medical staff ensures at MEDDAC-AK to help avoid mistaken identity is to properly identify patients, and then match them to the correct procedures and treatment. Taking the time to complete that step at every visit for every procedure is important because once the wrong information is entered into a patient's record due to mistaken identity, it can be difficult to get it corrected -- which increases the chances that more mistakes could occur.

This is why hospital staff ask for the patient's name and date of birth at every encounter. This information is then matched to the medical record or order sheet to verify that the right person is receiving the correct care.

At MEDDAC-AK, patients are encouraged to partner with us in the prevention of mistaken identity by making sure the two-patient identifier process is always followed for themselves and their family members. Staff will continue to ask for the patient's full name and date of birth. Here is where your New Year's resolution comes in-if they don't, "Speak Up":

• Ask to see the labels on the containers that your samples are put in. The label should have your full name and date of birth.
• Look at your prescriptions and instructions before you leave the hospital to make sure the correct patient's information is displayed.
• Learn more about "The Speak Up: Right ID, Right Care" campaign sponsored by The Joint Commission. https://www.jointcommission.org/facts_about_speak_up/

The entire MEDDAC-AK team is committed to eliminating mistaken identity and hope in this New Year beneficiaries partner with us by using tools from the "Speak Up" program.