Biometrics for newborns in hospital maternity units?

Maha govt asks hospitals to ensure biometric ID of infants (IBN Live)

In order to prevent thefts of babies from hospitals, the Maharashtra government has asked state-run medical centres to ensure biometric identification of infants within two hours of birth.

As far as I know, it’s easier to apply biometric identity management techniques to the adults who have a right remove a baby from a hospital than it is to biometrically account for the identity of each infant. Face recognition doesn’t work very well on infants and newborns aren’t going to be able to help with the more participatory biometric modalities like iris and finger even if the algorithms are applicable to infant morphology (and I’m not sure that they are).

Footprints have been collected from newborns for a long time, but even though human experts can match properly executed paper and ink footprints, I’m not aware of any matching algorithms for the foot to automate that process.

So that leaves biometrics for the adults that are allowed in the maternity ward including parents/soon-to-be parents and a special category for individuals that are allowed to remove a newborn from hospital property: new parents exclusively.

Granted, that won’t prevent baby mix-ups, but it can go a long way to making baby theft much more difficult.

In a more passive approach, SecurLinx has experience providing facial recognition capabilities to monitor a watch list of individuals restrained from approaching a maternity wing.

If anyone out there has any information on biometric algorithms intended for use on newborns, please send it along.

Brazilian ghost doctors have rubber fingers

Note: all links in this post go to Portuguese language sources. Translations are a collaboration between Google and me.

My brother in São Paulo tipped me off to a rubber finger scandal in the Greater S.P. health service.

Doctor busted in SP for falsifying colleagues fingerprints with silicone (Floha de S. Paulo – Portuguese)

A doctor was arrested red-handed on Sunday, March 10 for using silicone fingers to fake the fingerprints use to mark the attendance of colleagues. She and the other doctors are employees of Samu Service (Emergency Medical Care) for Ferraz de Vasconcelos, in Greater São Paulo.

According to police, Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 28, registered the attendance of 11 doctors and 20 nurses. She told police she practiced the irregularity because she was coerced by her boss. 

Greater SPDoctors suspected of faking attendance are removed (Floha de S. Paulo – Portuguese)

Six Samu Service (Emergency Medical Care) doctors  in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Greater São Paulo, paid R$ 4,800 [ed. $2,450 US] to the coordinator of the service in the city, Jorge Luiz Cury, in order to avoid working four 24-hours shifts per month for which they were paid, City Hall says. Police are investigating the case. The city pulled the servers allegedly involved in the fraud.

The day before yesterday [ed. see above], when the scheme was discovered, doctor Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 28, was arrested in the act of using mock fingers with silicone fingerprints to mark the attendance of six colleagues.

Where they have been adopted, biometrics have made ghostbusting easier. In this case, with time-and-attendance biometrics deployed someone had to create and use 31 rubber fingers (pictured at both links above). That draws attention. Without biometrics, scaling up the time-and-attendance fraud while decreasing the risk of detection would have been much easier. If this allegedly corrupt boss was willing to go up to at least 31 rubber fingers, how many paper employees would he have tried?

According to Wikipedia, Ferraz de Vasconcelos, where the fraud took place, is second-poorest of Greater São Paulo’s 39 municipalities. Congratulations to all involved for stopping this instance of the corrupt stealing resources meant to provide health care to people far less fortunate than the doctors and administrators involved.

UPDATE:
[Via] Drudge and the BBC are now on the story. If you didn’t want to wade through the Portuguese pieces linked above, you may be interested in these.

UPDATE II:
Upon closer examination of the the photos of the fake fingers used, another thought comes to mind. It certainly appears as though the fake fingers were created with the participation of their owners, making them evidence for the prosecution that they were complicit in the fraud.  As it is, the fake fingers used in the fraud come from a variety of live finger models. In the two examples pictured below, the one on the left appears to belong to a male and the one on the right appears to belong to a female. If the counterfeiter wasn’t working from live models, there would be no reason to add a fingernail to the back of the fake finger.

Image edited from original photo at Folha de S. Paulo

Had the doctors’ prints been somehow lifted via subterfuge and placed onto a silicone finger without their knowledge, we might expect all of the fake fingers to look very similar as the finger counterfeiter might have used his own finger as a model and simply placed the doctors’ prints on it. Alternatively, as with The Old Gummi Bear Trick, the item bearing the fingerprints needn’t look much like a finger at all.

Without biometrics (and with a more careful set of individuals), it might have been very difficult to prove that the doctors involved weren’t just victims of identity theft by a corrupt official. With the evidence on hand (!) it should be a simple matter to determine if the fake fingers match those of the ghost doctors.

A larger question is whether this story argues for or against the adoption of biometric systems for time-and-attendance. Nobody should claim that biometrics or any other security or ID management measure is perfect and infallible. Nothing is infallible. In this case, however, it appears that having a biometric rather than a paper-based time-and-attendance system increased the costs and complexity of committing the fraud. It made executing its daily function (clocking in) more difficult to do without being noticed. And (at least in this case) it forced those complicit in the scheme to create pretty significant evidence of their involvement.

As a manager or law enforcement official, which case would you rather prosecute: one with rubber fingers or one with only a paper trail?

Note: This post has undergone a few revisions for the purposes of updating the post, correcting typographical or grammatical errors and to add clarity.

Biometrics and a different side of the Afghan war

…from the Durango Herald:

“You never know who is coming through the gate – it is very important for me to see that I’m getting kids inside the gate and getting (them) to treatment they’re not going to receive anywhere else,” he said.

To ensure the hundreds receiving care each day are safe, Silvia and other troops scan each person’s eyes and fingers with high-tech biometric scanners that provide access to individual information.

South Florida: Baptist Health hospitals adopt biometrics for patient ID

New hand scanners being used in local hospital to identify patients (First Coast News)

You used to have to give your name, a form of ID, often a social security number when you checked into hospitals, but now all you may need is your palm.

Baptist Health is using new technology now that identifies each patient by the vein pattern in their hand. The technology is called the Palm Vein Biometric Identification System.

The computer stores the patient’s vein pattern as a binary number connected to your file, so anywhere you go within the Baptist Health system, you can be identified and your records pulled up by simply scanning your hand.

The Director of Information Services, Jim Bilsky, says the motives behind this new technology is to stop identity theft and ID Card sharing. Also to help identify patients that are brought in unconscious during emergency situations.

This one happens t be about patient ID, but it’s hard to think of an identity management challenge hospitals don’t have.

We just love it. No one wants to go back.

Palm scanners get thumbs up in schools, hospitals (USA Today)

Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing.

Here’s how it works: Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person’s skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.

It’s not hard to see why palm vein scanners are attractive in many applications. Users don’t have to touch anything, they’re fast, and the biometric is more difficult than some others to spoof.

Hospital Patient ID

St. Peter’s Hospital moves to biometric patient ID (Independent Record – Helena, MT)

St. Peter’s Hospital has begun using a biometric identification system it says will eliminate the need for patients to show identification with each visit while improving the certainty that medical providers will access the medical records of the correct patient.

UPDATE:
See (listen) also this interview: Biometric Patient ID Technology with M2SYS President, Michael Trader (HIT Consultant)

Lots of good discussion of the ROI available to health care providers through biometric patient ID.

What is the best biometric?

I often get asked what is the best biometric modality.

The article below is a good example of why the answer is always, “That depends; what are you trying to accomplish?”

Eye of the Beholder: How Iris Biometrics Could Help Solve Hospital Patient ID Problems (Becker’s Hospital Review)

One of the other major benefits, according to Mr. Powe, is the hands-off approach — literally. Patients do not have to touch any equipment with an iris scan, which helps hospitals in their infection control efforts.

“Since you don’t have to touch it, it’s an infection control measure,” Mr. Powe says. “A lot of people don’t come to the hospital because they are healthy. With palm scanning, you put your hand down, then sanitize it and clean it to keep someone from passing infections. But that’s not the case here. You just sit in a chair, line your eyes up with a camera, take the picture and you’re done.”

Philippines Health Care company introducing Face Recognition for patient ID

Maxicare eyeing wider network in provinces (Manila Times)

…Maxicare will begin the circulation of the enhanced feature card for health care that can also use as a cash card. It is named “My Maxicare lite” and uses Facial Biometrics that will help health establishments view a Maxicare member’s profile and medical records through facial biometric technology. This is a first of its kind in the Philippines.

Maxicare is now partnered with 27,000 accredited doctors and specialists, 1,000 hospitals and clinics and an about 3,500 dental experts nationwide.

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