Why patient identification matters more than ever in 2018

Mar 12, 2018

Leading into Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 11-17), a recent survey conducted by Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (PSQH) and HealthLeaders Media allowed 100 hospitals and health systems to provide insight on how they see the current state of patient identification and registration procedures in their facilities. The survey found that more than half of respondents (54%) are not very confident in their patient identification strategies.  

Why are patients misidentified?

Positive patient identification is critical for hospitals to ensure patient safety and protect patient data. According to industry research cited by RAND, 7-10% of registering patients are misidentified upon entry. The implications of patient misidentification are extreme, creating a ripple effect of both clinical and financial consequences throughout the hospital.

In busy healthcare facilities, patient identification can be challenging due to outdated systems, duplicate medical records, human errors, and miscommunication. Many hospitals still rely on methods that do not guarantee accurate patient identification such as a person’s date of birth or a health insurance card. While many industry leaders have attempted to find a solution to achieve positive patient identification, the HealthLeaders-PSQH survey reveals that 89% of respondents feel that ensuring patient identification is a high priority for their organization. 

Only 4% of survey respondents said their patient identification process is 100% accurate. Because of inaccuracy, industry research shows that patient misidentification contributes to:

  • 27% of radiation errors
  • 29% of medication errors
  • 5% of wrong-patient/wrong-site surgeries
  • 850 medical errors and 20 deaths related to blood transfusions

Improving patient safety with biometric recognition

As healthcare organizations prioritize finding a universal patient identifier, biometrics continues to offer an excellent solution. 75% of survey respondents favored biometric recognition as the best methodology for patient identification and electronic medical record matching, especially because the likelihood of a false positive with biometrics is about one in 10 million.

Imprivata PatientSecure is the leading positive patient identification solution for healthcare that uses palm-vein biometrics to create a 1:1 match between individual patients and their unique medical records. Not only do biometrics reduce the risk of patient misidentification, but organizations have reported that they have improved their revenue cycle, optimized cost savings, reduce patient check-in times and increased overall patient and physician satisfaction

The National Patient Safety Foundation has sponsored Patient Safety Awareness Week for the past 15 years, encouraging collaboration among healthcare organizations to focus resources and knowledge on improving and ensuring patient safety. Biometrics offers distinct advantages to achieving positive patient identification, including a highly accurate and secure technology solution that improves patient safety and reduces medical errors.

To discover more findings from the HealthLeaders-PSQH report, download our on-demand webinar, Shaping the future of patient identification in healthcare.

Full report: PSQH Intelligence Report: Patient identification and the benefits of biometrics