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Personal Injury Law Blog

Identification errors can likely be prevented

One of the issues that can lead to surgical errors and other medical errors is patient identification. The Emergency Care Research Institute conducted a study that found that most errors having to do with patient identification are preventable. In fact, the results of the study show that it might be possible to prevent all patient identification errors.

The study reviewed wrong-patient events that were submitted by 181 health care organizations. More than 7,613 events that occurred from January 2013 through August 2015 were studied. This included events from clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, surgery centers, and other medical facilities.

When it was all tallied, a total of 12.6 percent of the errors occurred during the intake process and 72.3 percent occurred during the patient encounter. One issue here is that some facilities relied on patients to confirm their identity, even when the patient was impaired.

The good news from the study is that 91.4 percent of the issues were found before the patient was harmed. The bad news is that some patients were harmed before the errors were discovered. For those patients, seeking compensation for the errors might be on their to-do list.

Two patients who were reviewed in this study died because of the errors. There is no excuse for that to have happened because these deaths were caused by documentation errors.

This study led to the recommendation that medical facilities take steps to reduce these errors. Some of the methods that can be used include audits, improvements in technology, establishing acceptable procedures for patient identification, and providing patient access to records via secure portals.

Source: Health IT Analytics, “ECRI: “Most If Not All” Patient Identification Errors Preventable,” Nathan Boroyan, Sep. 28, 2016