“Can I see your health card?” As a patient, this should be one of the first things that you are asked when you go to the hospital, whether it is to the Emergency Department, to get an x-ray, or bloodwork done. Your health card is your care provider’s key to ensure you are safely registered and to provide you with treatment. If needed, it allows access to previous health information collected about you. Where a name and date of birth may be the same or similar for multiple people, a Personal Health Information Number (PHIN) is unique to you.
Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) facilities and community programs are now using regional or provincial electronic systems that store your personal health information in a computer system. There are many individuals entered in the system, and having your health card and PHIN available will ensure that only your information is being brought up and not someone else’s.
Each time you are registered to receive health care services, you will be asked if the information on your card is current. You will also be asked to verify other details such as your current address, phone number, family physician, and next of kin/contact person. It is a registration best practice to ask for these details each time you seek care, even if you were recently seen by the same care provider. These steps are in place to keep you safe.
Imagine going to the hospital and not giving your health card to the registration personnel, who only enters your name into the computer system. There are two other people in the system with the same name, and the incorrect one is selected, so their information comes up instead of yours. You are sent on to the nurse; the nurse uses that wrong information to look at your medications, which belong to the other person. This is how quickly identity errors can escalate and take a turn for the worse. Having an inaccurate registration can cause the doctor to prescribe something that you are allergic to or your lab results being sent to a doctor that you have never seen. As a result, errors and delays in diagnoses can occur.
Even if you know the person at the registration desk, always provide your health card and be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your family physician and your emergency contact person. This will save you time in the long run and keep you safe.
If you need to update your health card, fill out the back of your old one and send it to:
Insured Benefits Branch
Residents within the province from outside Winnipeg:
Deaf Access Line TTY/TDD:
Call the Manitoba Relay Service at 711 or 1-800-855-0511 to reach the above number.