Imagine the public outcry if a fully loaded Airbus crashed, and the corporation, the pilots and the FAA all knew about the technical flaw that brought that plane down, but did nothing to stop it. Now, imagine if an event like that happened every single day. This is the magnitude of patient-adverse events that occur in this country every year due to patient misidentification. Annually, over 114K patients die in the U.S. due to wrong patient errors.This startling statistic has been cited by multiple reports and agencies devoted to patient safety and designs around promoting an accurate patient identity experience.
But still - healthcare providers go to work every day without total confidence that the patient they are providing services for is, in fact, the person they believe them to be. Patient misidentification may be inadvertent (ex: two patients with the same name and same DOB have their clinical records overlaid within the hospital’s EMR system) or it may be intentional (a person steals the identity of another patient and passes them self off as that individual to receive care). Of course, not all misidentification events result in an adverse event. Most are caught in a timely fashion before any harm is done, while some mistakes may result in incorrect billing or insurance filing. But, no matter the underlying cause or the severity of the outcome, the fact remains that hundreds of patients each day come close to harm or death, and don’t even know it.
This paper describes the current thinking around patient identity and designs to replace a broken process with one that seems to be “good enough”. We propose that there is a better way that has been in place for many years and has been used successfully by other industry sectors. There is a solution that is ready for deployment today and will have an immediate impact on patient safety.