A patient identification system for relating items with patients and ensuring that an identified item corresponds to an identified patient. The patient identification system includes a computer system (42) interconnected to a plurality of remote terminals (62) by conventional telephone wiring (66,70). The patient identification system further including a portable bar code reading device (48) including a bar code wand (120), an LCD display (116) and a key pad (114). The portable bar code reading device (48) communicates via RF transmission with an RF/PLC modem (60). The bar code reading device (48) is utilized to read a patient's unique bar codes (50) on a patient's identification bracelet (52), bar codes (51) on labels (53) attached to various items in the hospital relating the item to a specific patient and bar codes (49) on item labels (47) whereby such items can be automatically correlated to a specific patient and checks performed at the computer system (42) to ensure that the item properly corresponds to the identified patient.