Social Security numbers on wristbands worry VA patients - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Social Security numbers on wristbands worry VA patients

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

When you're sick enough to be in the hospital, what's written on your wristband is probably the last thing on your mind.

"I've never paid any attention," said Charles Boyd, a Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care Systems patient.

Rosemary Anzalone's husband is a World War II veteran. He's been coming to the VA for more than four decades. She, too, had no idea that her husband's Social Security number was printed on the inside of his wristband.

"I've just taken them off and thrown them in the trash. And who knows who picks these things up on a daily basis," Anzalone said.

CBS 5 News asked VA officials why the patient's private number was put on the band. Scott McRoberts said the practice is consistent with National Patient Safety Goals.

Patients said the policy puts folks at risk for identity theft.

"I think they should change it immediately," Boyd said.

"They print them out. So print them out without the numbers," Anzalone said.

Officials from the VA declined to go on camera but sent us this statement that read:

"To protect patient confidentiality and maintain patient safety, Phoenix VA Health Care Systems prints the name on the front of the wrist band and a second unique patient identifier, the patient's SSN, on the inside of the wrist band out of view."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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