Some time ago the Spanish press published the case of a patient who has filed an official complaint because since 2013 the Torrecárdenas Hospital in Almería has confused her medical record with that of another woman with the same name and surnames, without the problem still being solved (http://www.elmundo.es/andalucia/2017/04/26/58ff9ac9e2704e48708b45e1.html).
The hospital managers have agreed on the “human error” in the hospital and committed to solve the problem.
The lack of adequate technological means, of optimal procedures and personnel trained in patient safety and good identification practices put healthcare organizations at risk because:
- more cases of fraud by identity theft occur;
- surgeries are performed on the wrong patients and on the wrong side;
- mistakes are made in the administration of drugs and blood transfusions;
- security gaps appear that allow the theft of patient’s medical data;
- duplicate and overlapped medical records are created.
According to figures from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), between 8% and 12% of all medical records in the US are duplicated or overlapped with that of another patient. Most of these errors, 92%, occur in the hospital admissions. In addition to put the patient at risk, the duplicate medical records cause administrative inefficiency and economic losses for the healthcare organizations.
For the international research, technology and consulting company for the medical sector, Advisory Board (https://www.advisory.com/research/financial-leadership-council/multimedia/interactive/eight-ways-to-protect-your-margins), the extra costs caused by incorrect or incomplete patient documentation could be up to USD 7 million per year for an average 250-bed hospital.
Currently, almost all Spanish public hospitals have patient identification protocols in place. However, there is still a lot to do to get the unambiguous identification safe in 100% of the cases. 13.5% of the incidents in hospitals notified to the System of Notification and Learning for Patient Safety (SiNASP) between January 2014 and June 2015 were related to the identification of the patient.
Hospitals should stop trying to identify the patient for something they know (name and surname) or something they carry (healthcare card), and begin to identify what the person is. That is, using some physical feature that uniquely and sacurely identifies the person as a unique individual. And for that, the best option is to use biometric technologies.
With the biometric identification it is possible to unify the clinical data, eliminate the duplicity of medical records, improve the accuracy of the clinical file, improve the quality of the health information system, and above all avoid the admnistration of treatments, clinical procedures and incorrect diagnoses that can cause serious problems to patients. All this, in turn, improves the quality of healthcare services.
The information in electronic medical records will be accurate and correct, so there is no need to allocate part of the budget to fix these problems as it is currently being done.
All this has a very positive effect on the hospital’s KPIs, the community’s perception of the center and its reputation.
At UMANICK we are experts in biometric identification systems. Contact us if you want to know more about how to improve the management of the patient’s identity. We willassess which is the most suitable biometric technology for your project and organization.