The practical imaging aspects of the X-ray procedure

2. Patient identification

One of the primary considerations for any imaging procedure is correct patient identification.  This is an essential element of any radiographic examination but can be especially challenging when undertaking mobile examinations, often patients are acutely unwell and maybe unable to verbally provide the required number of identifiers (e.g. name, date of birth, identification number and address).  Such information can be obtained from ward staff and patient relatives; however, this should be avoided as patients with the same name can exist in the same ward or bay.  This is also the case when checking patient details using written case notes; case notes at the end of a patient’s bed do not necessary equate to the identity of the patient.  In such instances, a successful identity check should use identifiers on the patient’s hospital identity bracelet.  If this is not present, then a request should be made for the ward staff to apply an identity bracelet prior to imaging.  In the future, it is likely that other more sophisticated methods of supporting patient identification will become available, for example digital facial recognition, biometric markers and radiofrequency identification chips3.  To ensure correct identification of the patient it is important that the radiographer / radiologic technologist (RT) has access to the radiology request form.  This was traditionally paper based but is more frequently available only via the electronic radiology information system (RIS) or an electronic patient record (EPR).  If working with digital technology, potentially paperless, then radiographer / RTs should have sufficient means to access such systems (i.e via a tablet device or PDA).