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Positive Patient ID

We put a patient identification (ID) armband on your child at St. Jude to make sure we give the correct care to the correct child. We want to make sure we know exactly who each child is and what they need at all times.

What is positive patient identification?

Positive patient identification, or PPID, is how St. Jude makes sure your child gets safe and correct care. Your child gets an armband with their information printed on it at every appointment. They also get one if they check into the hospital.

Each armband includes your child’s legal name and medical record number (MRN). This allows St. Jude staff to check your child’s identity during treatment. Your child must keep the armband on until they leave campus.

Registration placing armband on patient

Registration placing arm band on patient to be used for positive patient identification.

How you can help

A St. Jude staff member will look at your child’s armband and ask you their legal name and MRN. You may answer, or your child may answer if they are old enough. St. Jude staff will check your child’s armband often for safety.

Parents and patients sometimes ask, “You are looking at the armband. Don’t you know their name?” We do this as a second check because we never want to assume your child's identification. This helps prevent mistakes and ensure your child’s safety.

Show me, tell me

We call the process of checking your child’s armband “Show me, tell me.”

Staff verifying patient's armband

Show me, tell me – Staff must verify your child each time a treatment is done to ensure safety.

Your child shows us the armband while you tell us the correct information. It helps us make sure you child gets the correct medicines, treatments, and blood products. This is important because we take your child’s safety very seriously.

Research shows that families and caregivers who help hospital staff identify patients correctly can help lower the number of mistakes. This is why we ask you to help us check the armband.

We can make this process fun for younger children. For example, your child might like to make a sign with their legal name on it. They can hold up the sign instead of answering out loud.

Using a scanner to check ID

St. Jude staff can also scan your child’s armband with a bar code scanner, like you might see in the store. The scanner helps a computer check that your child is getting the right medicines and the right doses, but we will still complete the show me, tell me.

We also use scanners when we:

  • Take samples for blood tests
  • Give your child medicine
  • Give your child blood or blood products
  • Before certain tests or procedures

Your child’s preferred name and pronouns

We will ask for your child’s legal name when we check the armband.

We understand that your child might prefer a different name. If so, they can ask Patient Registration or any member of their care team to use the name they prefer. They can also ask us to use the pronouns they prefer.

We must use their legal name for checking ID, but we can use the name they prefer at other times.

Some terms to know

Legal name — Usually a first and last name. The last name is also called a “surname.” You use your legal name for legal (law) papers, including contracts and other agreements. Your legal name is the name on your birth certificate unless a judge changed it later or you changed it when you got married.

MRN — This stands for medical record number. We assign an MRN to each child. It is another way we can make sure that your child gets the right care.

Patient identification (ID) armband — A paper or plastic band that goes on your child’s wrist or ankle after we learn who they are. Your child’s band has at least 2 ways to identify them, and maybe more. These ways include their name, date of birth, and medical record number. St. Jude staff use your child’s armband to make sure your child is the correct patient before we give any treatment.

Preferred name — The name you or your child want to be called. This might be a nickname or another name different from the legal name. Or it could be the legal name.

Preferred pronoun or preferred gender pronoun — The pronoun is the word we sometimes use instead of your name, such as “he,” “she,” or “they.” Your preferred pronoun, or preferred gender pronoun, can be what you choose. It is the word you or your child want us to use when we talk to you or about you. It can be male or female, such as “he” or “she,” but it does not have to be.

Key points

  • We must put a patient ID armband on your child at St. Jude.
  • We use your child’s legal name for checking ID, but we can use the name they prefer at other times.
  • Our staff may also scan your child’s armband with a bar code scanner.
  • These methods help us know who each child is and what they need at all times.


Reviewed: August 2022