- Patient misidentification is costing hospitals an average of $17.4 million each year in denied claims, risking patient harm and inconvenience, according to a report released by healthcare IT security firm Imprivata.
- Out of the 503 healthcare executives and providers the Ponemon Institute surveyed, 86% reported witnessing or experiencing a patient misidentification error and, on average, nearly half an hour per shift is spent dealing with these issues, the report states.
- There was consensus among the survey respondents that a more effective patient matching system can help improve patient care, patients' experience in their continuum of care, and hospitals' budgets.
The problem with patient misidentification, most of which stemmed from registration errors in the report, has only grown worse with the adoption of electronic medical records as some providers have been struggling to rectify reams of conflicting digital information.
“Patient misidentification is a longstanding and unfortunately growing issue facing hospitals nationwide,” Mollie Drake, former corporate director of access management at Scripps Health in San Diego, said in a statement in response to the survey findings. “Clearly, misidentification can cause inconvenience, and even harm for patients, but this report shines a spotlight on what many people don’t see — that it also has unfavorable effects on clinician productivity and the hospital’s revenue cycle.”
To reverse this trend, respondents suggested using biometrics to positively identify patients at registration.
The survey echoes a recent analysis by the ECRI Institute, which found providers regularly misidentify patients for surgical procedures or other tests or treatments. Fueling these mix-ups are several factors: rising patient volumes, frequent handoffs among providers, and lack of interoperability and data sharing among disparate IT systems.
To address the multi-million dollar loss resulting from patient misidentifications, the report recommended adoption of standardized protocol for verifying patient identities, standardizing how names are displayed in EMRs, attaching patient photos to EMRs, and expanding common practices like matching the bar code on a patient’s wristband with that on a drug order to include things like blood tests and X-rays.