An electronic data entry system can be programmed to generate a unique event number automatically as each new record is saved. For paper data registration forms, a unique event number should be assigned to each copy of the registration form that is produced.
Unique Person Identification Number
When data is entered into an electronic database or onto a paper data registration form, information that can directly or indirectly identify a person – such as a person’s full name, health identification number or street address – must be coded in accordance with the data protection regulations of the country concerned. This is necessary to prevent a person’s identity from being linked to the information collected.
As an example, the following coding could be applied to create a unique person identification number:
- The initials or first two letters of the first name and the last two letters of the last name or the partial name of the person
- The person’s age or age range (e.g. any age between 30 and 39 years is coded as 30)
- The person’s year of birth
- The person’s postal code or partial postal code (such as the first two numbers of the postal code).
The result of a code from this example could be SH367810.
The situation in which a unique code appears twice or more often must be avoided.
Tip! Electronic data entry systems can provide an alert when a unique code is created for a second time.
Alternatively, when using paper data registration forms, a pre-generated list of random codes could be used for unique person identification numbers. The list linking the unique person identification number to a person’s medical record should be kept in a safe or log controlled by the hospital. This safe or log should be kept secure at all times; if electronic, it should be double password-protected and encrypted.
This standardized system of creating codes should be confidential and known only to those controlling the electronic database. Similarly, the list linking a person’s identity to randomly generated codes through a paper system should also be protected.
Where data protection legislation does not permit the recording of personal data without consent, an alternative anonymized coding procedure could be agreed with the designated local or national office for data protection.