How CoxHealth uses hand scanners to prevent medical errors

Springfield, Mo.-based CoxHealth is putting vein pattern readers in its six hospitals to reduce the risk of giving patients the wrong treatment, Ozarks First reports.

Upon checking in to the hospital, patients will place their hand on a device that has an infrared camera and reads the vein pattern in their hand. The process takes about three seconds and connects each patient's palm vein to their medical record to help providers avoid treating the wrong patient.

"It's so unique that identical twins do not have the same vein pattern," Jack Cole, Cox's IT administrative director, told Ozarks First.

For CoxHealth, which checks in hundreds of patients daily — some with the same first and last name and birth date — the technology is critical to patient safety, said Charlotte Hale, assistant director of admissions with CoxHealth.

"I believe it will save lives," Mr. Cole said. "If you are enrolled into the system and you show up into the emergency room and you don't have any ID and your unconscious or you're unable to identify yourself, they will be able to scan your palm and know exactly who you are."

The palm readers are set to be placed in all Cox hospitals by this fall. Patients must be enrolled in the Cox security system for the readers to be applicable. 

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