April 6, 2011 (Wednesday) - Mistaken Identity?

Being Wednesday we had the traditional lunchtime seminar - a fascinating lecture and subsequent discussion: how can we be certain of the origin of any blood sample with which we are presented. Does the name on the bottle bear any relation to the person from whom the blood was taken?

Was the person who collected the blood sample meticulous in confirming the patient's identity?
I've seen a case (admittedly a long time ago and in another hospital) where a retired gentleman arrived at the phlebotomy station with the blood test form of an antenatal teenager. Said retired gentleman insisted that the details on the form were his details. I asked the chap if his name was Susan, was he nineteen years old and pregnant to which he answered a most emphatic YES!!!

Also how do we know that the patient is who they claim to be? How do we know they aren’t actually lying and making that claim for nefarious reasons of their own?
I've seen cases where patient’s blood groups and haemoglobinopathy statuses have apparently (and impossibly) changed because illegal immigrants have had medical treatments using the alias of legal immigrant friends.

And given that a blood test is labelled as being from Fletcher Honorama with d.o.b. 30-2-64, how do we know that this patient is the same Fletcher Honorama with d.o.b. 30-2-64 that exists on the laboratory computer? Seeing that the name is rather obscure, this is *probably* a safe bet.  But only *probably*. How can we be sure?

Short of microchipping the population (as one does with one's pets) there is no easy answer to this. But today's talk has made me think...

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