Most, and possibly all wrong-patient errors are preventable, according to a recent report from ECRI Institute PSO in Plymouth Meeting, PA.
Errors in patient identification mistakes are usually discovered before they can harm the patient, but can result in patient deaths when they do cause harm, ECRI reports in The ECRI Institute PSO Deep Dive: Patient Identification. ECRI estimates that 9% of the events led to temporary or permanent harm or even death.
The findings are based on thousands of patient error reports, according to a statement announcing the results. ECRI researchers studied more than 7,600 wrong-patient events occurring over a 32-month period. The events were voluntarily submitted by 181 healthcare organizations, and may represent only a small percentage of all wrong-patient events.
The following are some of the key findings:
- Patient identification errors can occur almost anywhere in the healthcare process, including patient registration, electronic data entry and transfer, medication administration, medical and surgical interventions, blood transfusions, diagnostic testing, patient monitoring, and emergency care.
- Errors occur in every healthcare setting, from hospitals and nursing homes to physician offices and pharmacies.
- Any healthcare professional or staff member can make a wrong-patient error.
- In many cases, the patient identification error affects two or more people. ECRI cites the example of a patient receiving a medication intended for another patient. In that case, both patients can be harmed.
A summary of the report is available at: www.ecri.org/patientid.