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Study finds patient ID mix-ups are a big problem

A patient ID mix-up is one of the worst medical mistakes that can happen at a Kentucky hospital. Depending on when it takes place and how much time passes before it is corrected, the consequences of this kind of mistake can be fatal. To make matters worse, one patient ID mix-up frequently affects another patient as well.

The ECRI Institute has conducted a study examining the problem of patient ID mix-ups. The ECRI's Patient Safety Organization conducted a review of 7,613 wrong-patient events and found that ID mix-ups are a significant problem in health care. The reports of adverse events were submitted voluntarily by 181 health care organizations from January 2013 to July 2015.

Researchers found that patient ID mix-ups can be made at any point in a patient's healthcare journey, and any member of a patient's hospital team can make the mistake. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists or lab technicians could misread a patient's ID, leading to a wrong or missed procedure, medication or test. A patient could even be misidentified during hospital registration, and the patient's ID could have an error at the beginning of treatment. Standardized identification protocols may be used to reduce the number of patient ID mix-ups in hospitals.

When an ID mix-up is not caught quickly, a patient can be seriously injured from a lack of treatment, wrong medication or wrong-patient surgery. A patient who was harmed because of an ID mix-up may want to talk to a lawyer about filing a hospital negligence lawsuit. It will need to be demonstrated that the mix-up constituted a failure by the institution to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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