August 27th, 2009

Great River Medical Center now requires patients to show photo identification when registering. The requirement is in preparation for compliance with the Federal Trade Commission's "Red Flags" rule. Implementation is scheduled for Nov. 1.

The new rule requires many businesses and organizations to have written identity-theft prevention programs to detect the warning signs - or "red flags" - of identity theft in daily operations, take steps to prevent the crime and lessen the damage it inflicts. Besides draining accounts and damaging credit, identity theft can endanger medical treatment.

"If someone were to use identifying information of another patient, such as an insurance number, it would alter the medical record of the person whose identity was stolen," said Sara Ensminger, director, Registration. "If not corrected, it could affect future treatment."

Ensminger said Great River Medical Center has a low risk of identity theft. The extra step has not lengthened registration time.

As many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. By identifying red flags in advance, Great River Medical Center will be better equipped to spot suspicious patterns if they arise and take steps to prevent a red flag from escalating into an episode of identity theft.