Processes for matching patients to their intended procedure, treatment or investigation are essential for ensuring that the right patient receives the right care. Most health service organisations have processes in place for patient identification and procedure matching but these may not be formally documented.
The specific type of patient and procedure matching process in use will be dependent on the type of procedure, the design of the workflow in a particular work area or organisation, and the risks for the patient. Clearly documenting the process for how patient identification and procedure matching is performed in each specialist area will help to ensure that particular requirements are not overlooked. For example, in most procedural areas ‘time outs’ are required with the whole team before the procedure can commence. In other situations, such as radiology where there may only be a single operator, this could be done as a stop to verify that all requirements are correct.
In 2009 Health Ministers endorsed the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist as the nationally agreed strategy for surgical safety inAustralia. This checklist should be used as patient / procedure matching protocol for surgery.
An earlier protocol developed by the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Council) in consultation with theRoyalAustralasianCollegeof Surgeons (RACS) and the States and Territories was based on principles and processes that could be applied in a range of clinical areas. Because these principles still apply in general, the protocol and associated resources are provided here.
The Commission has now provided protocols to support correct matching of patients and their care in the specific areas of radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy and oral surgery.