2 patient identification metrics that put patients at risk

Even hospitals that follow strict rules and protocols run the risk of patient identification errors, the Healthcare Financial Management Association found in a recent report. Two sources create the most errors: overlays and duplicate medical records.

The causes of patient identification errors

An overlay record occurs when two different patients have their records intermingled after the wrong record is chosen at registration. A duplicate record occurs when multiple records are created for one individual. Healthcare organizations have an average duplicate record rate of 8% according to RAND. The emergency department is often the source of many duplicate records because communication can be tough and there is pressure to register patients as fast as possible.

The dangers of misidentification

In addition to being a timely issue to resolve, there are also many financial and legal repercussions stemming from patient identification issues created in the forms of duplicate and overlay records. Not having a patient’s complete and correct history can potentially result in adverse medical events or duplicate treatments, which can lead to medical harm for patients and liability issues for healthcare organizations. Another legal issue with patient identification is insurance card and medical identity fraud. This can create a financial burden for hospitals because of denials and insurance take-backs. Healthcare organizations also incur high financial costs and inefficiencies, due to the amount of time spent on cleaning up their Master Patient Index.

“When you create a duplicate, it affects so many layers. You’re creating more work for the insurance verification staff to pre-register the patient, who may have already been registered. The clinical staff also has to document on two records because you have created two accounts.” –Patricia Consolver, CHAM, senior director for patient access services at Texas Health Resources

The solution

A solution needs to be implemented at registration where the records are created in order to best avoid patient identification errors. While standards and policies can be created to reduce human errors, there is still opportunity for duplicate and overlay records to be created leading to misidentification.  Many organizations are finding that biometric solutions at registration are the optimal way to correctly identify a patient and access their correct, single record. Biometric identification solutions help ease patients’ fear of sharing their Social Security Numbers and helps ease clinicians’ fear of treating the wrong patient.

Imprivata PatientSecure

Imprivata PatientSecure uses palm vein biometrics to create a 1:1 match between a patient’s palm vein scan and their health record, preventing medical fraud and reducing the likelihood of human error. By ensuring that the correct patients’ records are retrieved at registration, hospitals mitigate the risk of adverse events and medical errors from patient identification mistakes and patients experience higher satisfaction from a streamlined registration process.

Imprivata PatientSecure is currently being used to identify more than 7 million patients across the United States. To learn more about why Imprivata PatientSecure is the positive patient identification solution of choice for more than 350 hospitals, please visit www.imprivata.com/platform/biometric-identification.