August 08, 2012 | | Comments 2
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Mirror, mirror on the wall … is that me?

One of the curious things I encounter on an increasingly regular basis is the Dorian Gray-like (but in reverse) effect of the ID badges of folks who’ve worked at an organization for a rather long time. So long, in fact, that they really don’t look like their ID pictures any more. I know you’ve seen it too.

Now, I’ve always considered the hassle of having folks wear ID badges as being an important component of our security management strategies. As a general consideration, we do have an obligation to ensure that we’re not giving any interlopers a chance of breaching our security (and don’t get me started on those folks who are not nearly as careful about their ID badges as they should be. I know it makes me sound petulant, but we really ask so little of folks in this regard).

So, I ask those of you responsible for the ID process, have you established criteria for an update of photo IDs? Weight loss or gain, hair color changes, the aging process (all potentially contentious topics for discussion)? Or, like the motor vehicle registry folks, do you re-take pictures after a certain amount of time, maybe contingent on how much a person has changed in the ensuing period. Any feedback or discussion would be most appreciated.

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Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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  1. You have raised a point that I doubt many of us have considered- we are all fixated on seeing the badges. I would suggest that facilities adopt a timeframe (maybe every 10 years) to redo the ID badges on long term employees. With general turnover, there would not be a large percentage due each month to even out the work load. if it was done the month for the anniversary date of hire then no one is singled out and most of the time there would be a decent match up. I think just redoing them is simpler than trying to figure out whose should be redon. At our facility the badges are required to enter many areas of the facility as well as at the timeclocks. If you didn’t get yours redone in your month of hire, the access could be deleted. This would get you there in a timely manner after the month lapsed.

  2. This came up just this week (Monday) and we are discussing how we incorporate a fixed time limit on ID photo’s and what that time shall be. We have considered whether it should be every 5 years (like our state drivers license requirements) or if it should be longer (maybe 10 years to correspond to a US Passport).

    My guess is that our new policy will be closer to the 10 year mark and will be setup via our access control system (similar to above)…because we already do that with new associates getting a required parking permit. 🙂

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