Mac’s Safety Space: Come fly with me…

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

This may feel like more of a public service announcement, but, if we’ve learned nothing else over the last 3-ish years, it's that sometimes the impact(s) of events can take on rather interesting twists and turns. Certainly, if any of the folks in the audience have to fly with any frequency, this would be of interest, but hopefully, as folks get to attend conferences and educational sessions outside of their organizations, this will also be useful.

In an announcement last month, the Department of Homeland Security indicated that full implementation/enforcement of the REAL ID program is going to be delayed for 2 more years (the “new” date is May 7, 2025). During that time, DHS is going to use the extension time to implement new technological innovations in order to ensure that the process is more efficient and accessible for safer travel.

All 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, and four of five territories of the United States covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards which are compliant with the REAL ID Act. Compliance is usually shown with one of five markings—usually a gold star or a star in a black circle—on the upper top portion of the document. You can learn about some of the REAL ID program specifics here:

The noted advancements in technology are reported to have enabled the Transportation Security Administration to implement significant improvements in screening at security checkpoints at airports—particularly in the areas of identity management, on-person screening, accessible property screening, and alarm resolutions—and include the deployment of technologies such as:

  • Advanced imaging technology
  • Advanced technology X-ray
  • Computed tomography
  • Bottled liquids scanners
  • Credential authentication technology
  • Deployment of passenger screening canines
  • The rollout of TSA Precheck

The Transportation Security Administration has also “increased its vetting capability through Secure Flight, a risk-based passenger prescreening program that enhances security by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watchlists,” according to the aforementioned article. “REAL ID requirements will strengthen these improvements further by providing an additional layer of confidence in the identity of the traveler.”

Minimum security standards also include:

  • Incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology
  • Preventing insider fraud
  • Using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who they claim to be

I personally have been enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program for a number of years and I can tell you that it makes for a significantly smoother experience of moving through the security lines. It will be interesting to see how the identified technologies (and, who knows, maybe some that are “unidentified”) will increase the efficiency of the security check process without sacrificing the safety of the traveling public.

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as 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 Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at

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