The Patient and The Wrong Identity


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We have all be saddened by the Boston bombings this week and my thoughts go to everyone that suffered that day, especially  the families of those that died and were badly injured.

Praise to those that risked their life to help others, at times of need people will always pull together and for the emergency services doing as they always do – a terrific job in such awful circumstances.

My heart especially goes out to the father that thought his daughter was injured, but in fact she had died, there had been a mix up with names, I believe she was carrying identification of her friend – such an easy thing to do – we have all at times carried a bag or purse belonging to someone else.

At the start of my career when I worked as a Receptionist I also worked for the out of hours service which held clinics at our local Hospital.
In the earlier days the Out Of Hours service was quiet – so I would often help the girls out on the A&E reception desk. I would help file, make the tea and help patients if they needed anything.
The “emergencies” came through another section of the department so we actually only dealt with the “walking” wounded. I cannot tell you what I seen and learnt during those years I was there. It certainly opened my eyes to how some people live their lives.
Working with the out of hours Doctor we really only seen minor illnesses – some we did refer on to the hospital but mainly they were just routine coughs and colds. But working in the reception area I witnessed some of the more critical cases that came in. When I read about the wrong identify at the recent Boston bombings I remembered a similar story ………………..

True Story:
It was a Sunday morning in A&E. The waiting room was full of the usual sporting injuries. Footballers, rugby players, and even golfers!!!
The ambulance brought in by blue light a referee from a local Sunday League football match. He was taken straight into Resuscitation – but sadly he didn’t make it.
It was awful – your thoughts go out to his family – who are yet to find out and also his colleagues that were with him when it happened. But what was really sad was that no one at the match knew anything about CPR – or if they did no one tried it on him. Had they have done – perhaps…………………. well we would never know.
The referee came in with just his kit on with his coat over the top of him – he had a member of the football team with him but no relative. The nursing staff had the awful job of phoning his wife. The staff member took his phone out of his jacket and went into a private room to phone. A job that everyone admits is the worse part of their job.
About 30 minutes later a distraught woman comes in – she comes to the desk and says that she is the wife of the referee that had been brought in. Everyone’s heart went out to her. Little did she know this morning what this day was going to bring.
She was brought into a room to be told that her husband had died.
The Nursing staff came out and brought her through to see her husband. Minutes later another member of the Nursing Staff came out – she wasn’t the wife of the dead man. This poor woman had gone in to see “her husband” only to find it was a complete stranger. She must have been filled with horror and relief at the same time. I can’t begin to think what she must have gone through.
We finally got to find out what had happened………………..the referee had collapsed on the pitch and while they were waiting on the ambulance to arrive someone from the side-line had taken his coat off and placed it over the referee to keep in warm. In the panic to get him to hospital quickly the jacket was taken with him in the ambulance.
What an awful error – this poor man was lying there – and no identity – but it only took minutes for them to find out his true identity from the people who came with him to the hospital and the Nursing Staff then had to make a second call – this time to the right person.

It was a lesson to us all – never take anything for granted.

And please remember just how important CPR can be.                   A life saver!

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2 thoughts on “The Patient and The Wrong Identity

  1. What a story! Ad what an easy mistake to make, yet so natural to assume it was his coat and his phone!

    We’re I work we have quite a lot of patients who share the same name – perhaps 3 Peter Taylors at the same address, because its a family name. Or a Karen Reed and a Karon Reed. Or a Katherine Williams versus.a Catherine Williams! And so it goes on.

    Thanks for reminding us how crucial it is to check, and check once more!

    • I quite agree with your comments, and thank you for taking the time to comment. Many surgeries have patients that share the same name. Often a father and son will share the same name and live at the same address – and it has been known at times that patients notes have been scanned into the wrong patients notes. Very scary. I have reposted a blog on accessing patient information by DOB – I hope you find it useful.

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