What is the point of the plastic card the hospital gives me every time?
July 10, 2013 4:34 AM   Subscribe

Every time I go to the hospital for a routine visit, I get a plastic card that looks kind of like a credit card, embossed with my name, my age, my birthday, my doctor's name, and the date and reason of the visit. No one ever asks to see this card; no one looks at it. I get a new card every time. It seems expensive and wasteful -- does anyone know why they do it?
posted by cider to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
 
Are you sure that you're supposed to get a new one each time, or is it possible that one or more people at the hospital are messing up the process? I have a card like this for my local hospital, but I've only received a new one when some of my personal data changed.
posted by neushoorn at 4:43 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which hospital?
I've never seen this happen, and I was going to write it off as "maybe it only happens where you live", but I see you're in MA like me.
posted by jozxyqk at 4:50 AM on July 10, 2013


Have you asked the hospital what is up with the card? The next time you're in you can just ask them.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:11 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work at a hospital and print a card for each patient for each visit to our unit. It's got the specific encounter number for their visit so all the paperwork is stamped correctly (and so all the computer charting is done under the right visit.)

We don't usually give these encounter-specific cards to patients, is that what you're taking home with you each time?
posted by unlapsing at 5:18 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it's the kind of card I'm thinking it is, it usually stays in the chart and is used to emboss the paperwork/stickers in hospitals that aren't digitized. Not terribly common anymore though. Does each card you've collected have a different date/case number on it?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:38 AM on July 10, 2013


Those cards cost like 6 cents each - 13 cents if it includes a magnetic stripe like a credit card. So I think the high cost of it isn't really a problem.
posted by flug at 6:52 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


My hospital uses these cards. If I forget to bring my card to the hospital, they print me a new one each time. A lot of times they just print it without asking if I remembered to bring the card back. Try re-using the card next time and see what happens.
posted by k8lin at 6:52 AM on July 10, 2013


Each card definitely has the date and the reason for the visit on it -- I don't think they're meant to be reusable. However, it's possible that I saw an impression of the card at the top of some paperwork that I had to hand over when I got to the appointment, so it could be that they used the card to "stamp" the papers and then had no use for it anymore? I'll ask about it the next time I'm in!
posted by cider at 7:19 AM on July 10, 2013


I get these at my hospital but I can re-use the card from the previous visit as well. It has my name and insurance details on it but not the specific reason for the visit. And yes, they use it to emboss paperwork etc.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 7:56 AM on July 10, 2013


SF General does this, but only stamps with name, birthdate, and medical records number. I assumed they did this so that people would remember their info when they came back or called in; it seems like people would lose a post-it but not a card. They've never asked me for it and they make a new one every time.
UCSF dental does the same thing, but they actually ask for the card later.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2013


These cards is that they used to be used to stamp your information quickly onto new forms, using a mechanical roller and ink. With electronic records being used more and more, hospitals have moved away from this. It's possible that there are still departments at your hospital that haven't transitioned away from the cards yet and so it's still policy to give every new patient one.
posted by the jam at 12:00 PM on July 10, 2013


The Foothills Hospital in Calgary issues these cards, and you're supposed to hang on to them. Most everyone forgets to, so reprinting them is essentially routine. My card has the following printed at the bottom: "ALWAYS KEEP THIS CARD WITH YOU". I think this was more important before electronic record-keeping was common. The cards are still used, though. Paper trails remain important in clinical care.
posted by rhombus at 3:02 PM on July 10, 2013


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