gtag('config', 'AW-803824614');

In Support of AHIMA’s Naming Policy Pledge

By Karen Proffitt, Vice President of Data Integrity Solutions, MHIIM, RHIA, CHP

In a recent AHIMA survey, 58% of respondents said that policies aimed at improving naming conventions were important in the quest to help erase duplicates. It is a long-term problem that has managed to evade any permanent solution—one that continues to wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of patient care.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the serious impact a lack of sound naming policies can have on our response to a public health crisis. Some of the most common problems we’ve seen during the pandemic include COVID-19 test results being sent to the wrong person—potentially delaying treatment for a positive patient while also extending and expanding exposure to those with whom they’ve come into contact—and issues with managing vaccination distribution. Healthcare organizations are also experiencing a surge in duplicates as patients try to navigate self-scheduling and self-registration portals for testing and vaccinations.

The urgency around resolving patient identification issues ultimately led AHIMA to create its Naming Policy Pledge. Designed to provide the structure for and promote standardized data capture, the pledge has the potential to bring the industry a tremendous step closer to solving the crises causes by patient duplicates and misidentification.

Announced in October 2020, it reads in part:

“As health information professionals, we are committed to excellence in the management of health information for the benefit of patients and providers. Patient misidentification continues to jeopardize patient safety, limit and delay data sharing and interoperability, and has an adverse effect on data quality.

“Today, as a health information professional, I pledge to advocate and educate members and other key stakeholders on the importance of naming policies in our healthcare organizations. I will support, encourage, and educate my fellow health information professionals to implement the following data policies” which include:

  • Capturing a patient’s complete legal name as reflected by government documentation or by a legal name changing event such as marriage, adoption, etc.
  • Use of upper case to eliminate variations in algorithms.
  • Inclusion of a patient’s middle name or initial.
  • Use of suffixes if entered on a government-issued identification.
  • Prohibiting use of nicknames, aliases, or preferred names as the legal name.
  • Use of the patient’s preferred pronoun.
  • Following The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal to distinctly identify newborns.
  • Using temporary naming conventions with estimated delivery date prior to birth
  • Use of a unique alphanumeric identifier and “unknown” as either the first or last name when no identification is available or provided at birth.


The pledge also addresses capturing sex and gender and calls for adherence to HL7 version 2.6 standards in the MPI Patient Identification Segments.

Just Associates fully supports the push for standardizing data capture to ensure accurate patient identification and our HIM leaders have proudly taken the AHIMA Naming Policy Pledge. If you’d like to do the same, click here.