Friday, July 29, 2011

Veins in palms scanned to reduce medical errors at NYC hospital... and attempts at beating identity scanning

A New York City hospital has stopped asking many patients to dig out health insurance cards and fill in endless forms, instead identifying them by scanning the unique lattice of veins in their palm.

The new biometric technology employed byNew York University's Langone Medical Center was expected to speed up patient check-ins and eliminate medical errors.

Studies have shown that hospital errors are behind as many as 98,000 deaths a year in the United States.

"The primary reason we actually got into this was patient safety," Bernard Birnbaum, the center's vice dean and chief of hospital operations, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

The system also has the virtue of not requiring the patient be conscious at the time of check-in, as is sometimes the case in emergency rooms.

"The benefits so greatly outweighed the disadvantages it was a no-brainer to implement," Birnbaum said.

The scanners are made by the technology services company Fujitsu and exploit the principle that, as with fingerprints and iris patterns, no two individuals' palm-vein configurations are quite the same. (more)