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Hardeep Singh

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Patient-ID mixups increasing


The ECRI Institute  reports that the increasing technological and other complexity of healthcare is spawning a  growing number of patient-identification errors.   The institute looked   at 7,613  scary patient-identification events — near-miss events and events that reached the patient and might have caused harm — from  181 healthcare organizations.

Their analysis determined that those 7,613 events resulted in 7,740 “failures,” or errors associated with patient misidentification; some of the events had more than one failure.

“This is a huge problem that the general public isn’t aware of,” William Marella, executive director for operations and analytics at the ECRI Institute’s Patient Safety Organization, told The Wall Street Journal. “Pretty much every clinician involved in your healthcare is at risk of making this kind of error.”

The WSJ reported:

“Safety initiatives have made many improvements in recent years, but the opportunities for ID-mix-ups are increasing as healthcare becomes more complex.”

‘We’re doing many more labs tests, more imaging tests, more procedures and more transitions through the system,”  Hardeep Singh, a patient-safety researcher at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine,  told the newspaper.

“Of the 7,613 mix-ups studied, 91% were caught before patients were harmed. Two were fatal and others might have been. One patient was given another’s hypertension medication, at 10 times the usual dose. A patient who wasn’t supposed to eat or drink was given the wrong meal tray and nearly choked. And an infant was given expressed breast milk from the wrong mother and was infected with hepatitis,” the paper said.

“The report found that about 13% of identification errors occurred during registration, when a duplicate record might be created for the same patient or information from two patients co-mingled in one record.”

“More than one-third of the mix-ups studied involved diagnostic tests such as X-rays and lab work; 22% involved treatments and procedures. In some cases, a patient’s wristband was wrong, missing, illegible or simply not checked.”

To read the report, please hit this link.

To read The Wall Street Journal story, please hit this link.

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