Healthcare And Birthdate Imperative

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Specializes in nursing ethics.

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Why are all healthcare staff required to persistently ask patients their birthdates? I know it is for ID. But the entire birthdate is not necessary. Some medical assistants and nurses are obsessed with it. They don't ask for names, not even a hello. Their only line is "what's your birthdate?" "Well, what's your birthday, we should retort".

 This is rude and disrespectful to adult patients, especially over a certain age and seniors who want to keep this private. Certainly, some other number  (PIN) is possible. I know that nurses are just following protocol, rules. Maybe things could change one clinic at a time. One day someone will collapse unconscious on the floor and before they help him, he will be asked his birthdate.

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 20 years experience. 2 Articles; 4,273 Posts

The question is quite odd. The medical industry has used a DOB as a identifier for as long as I can remember. Usually I am asked or ask for a 2nd identifier such as mothers maiden name so that the physician/practicioner in question know they are dealing with right person and not someone using a false or stolen identity. You question comes off as someone  who is not a medical professional but rather an  annoyed  consumer of medical services.

I further don't get why an older adult would feel in some way insulted by being asked their DOB. In a time when mistakes from prescribing medicine to wrong patient/wrong site surgical errors happen quite often I am glad that facilities and practicioners take the time to properly identify their patients. 

Hppy

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,481 Posts

1 hour ago, Mywords1 said:

Why are all healthcare staff required to persistently ask patients their birthdates? I know it is for ID.

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Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 10,678 Posts

Patient identification is a major concern and priority; I can't think of any place I have experience with that didn't require two identifiers, and things that could change (room number, etc) were not permitted to be used. Name and birthdate are consistent no matter what- a PIN like you suggested could be different at different providers or forgotten. Social security number would be a risk for identity theft, and it's also not easily found in the medical record (in my experience). However, the birthdate is right there under the patient's name.

Your profile states your specialty is nursing ethics; however, I believe you've mentioned in past posts that you are not a healthcare professional. It's hard for those outside to understand the inside.

nursej22, MSN, RN

Specializes in Public Health, TB. Has 37 years experience. 1,996 Posts

Anymore, I treat my DOB as an add to my last name, almost hyphenated: Nursej22-3/10/57. 

My old pharmacy used street address as a second identifier, current one uses DOB.

I don't mind at all, I am  actually glad a second identifier is used, as our last name is rather common. 

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 7,768 Posts

At least in my facility a patient could choose to memorize their MRN instead, although pretty much anyone who is required to confirm your identity with two identifiers most likely already has access to your birthday, and it's probably right under your name in the chart.

If someone finds their birthday to be too invasive, then pretty much anything else that happens in most healthcare environments will also be too much to tolerate, it may be wise to consider whether you really want to engage the healthcare system at all.

DavidFR, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 36 years experience. 469 Posts

I agree with the above posters that the question is rather bizarre.

I have worked in both infectious diseases and hepatology - two specialities which can often be all sex, drugs and alcohol. You'll be asked about your drinking habits, if you've used drugs, your sex life etc. In all specialities you often have to expose your body parts to nurses for clinical procedures, including your genitals.

And then you get uptight being asked your date of birth? By a professional?

Sorry to say this, but the question really doesn't reflect most people's reality..

 

Edited by DavidFR

JKL33

6,088 Posts

I'm much more annoyed with an ever-increasing bunch of randos who want my SSN for things. Which, my understanding is that it was originally never meant to be used in some of the ways which it is now.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 7,768 Posts

If you feel uncomfortable that someone is asking what your birthday is, and they're asking that to make sure you're the person who they need to stick their finger up your your anus to see if there is impacted feces in your rectum, then I would bet that someone knows how old you are isn't going to be the biggest issue.

Susie2310

2,041 Posts

@Mywords1 The purpose is to aid in correctly identifying patients.  It can be a very big problem if one is incorrectly identified in a health care setting; possibly leading to the wrong care being given or withheld, with possible harmful or fatal consequences.  Patients' dates of birth are in their chart; it makes sense to use this as an identifier.

Susie2310

2,041 Posts

15 minutes ago, Susie2310 said:

The purpose is to aid in correctly identifying patients.  It can be a very big problem if one is incorrectly identified in a health care setting; possibly leading to the wrong care being given or the right care being withheld, with possible harmful or fatal consequences.  Patients' dates of birth are in their chart; it makes sense to use this as an identifier.

Edited above in bold.  

MelEpiRN

171 Posts

Who is going to remember a PIN number to recite back? I can't even remember 90% of the passwords I'm required to have for literally everything these days.

Been in the field for ~20 years, no patient has ever complained to me about asking for their birthdate.