The real cost of patient misidentification

2016 National Patient Misidentification Report

As the healthcare industry has transitioned to digital health records, patient misidentification has become rampant and carries significant consequences that can negatively impact patient care and a hospital’s financial performance. These are a few of the key takeaways from an Imprivata-sponsored study by the Ponemon Institute entitled “The 2016 National Patient Misidentification Report.” 

To determine the clinical and financial impact of patient misidentification, the Ponemon Institute, a preeminent research center dedicated to privacy, data protection, and information security policy, surveyed 503 top-level healthcare executives and care providers across the U.S.  Overwhelmingly, respondents agreed that patient misidentification leads to medical errors, duplicate medical records, clinical productivity loss, and revenue loss for hospitals. Respondents also agreed that positive patient identification can have a significant impact on reducing patient misidentification and improving patient care, experience, and hospital cash flow. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • #1 cause of patient misidentification is incorrect identification at registration
  • 64% of respondents say that patient misidentification identification errors happens frequently or all the time in a typical healthcare facility, which means that the industry standard reporting of a 8-10% patient misidentification rate likely underrepresents the problem
  • On average, clinicians waste 28.2 minutes per shift searching for correct medical records for patients
  • 86% of providers have witnessed or have known of a medical error due to misidentification
  • The average hospital loses $17.4 million per year in denied claims resulting from misidentification

“Patient misidentification is a longstanding and unfortunately growing issue facing hospitals nationwide,” said Mollie Drake, former Corporate Director of Access Management at Scripps Health, a leading nonprofit integrated health system based in San Diego, California. “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.”