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What is Patient Identification?
Patient identification is the process of “correctly matching a patient to appropriately intended interventions and communicating information about the patient’s identity accurately and reliably throughout the continuum of care.” Patient identification encompasses not only physical identification of the patient, but technologies capable of improving the accuracy of patient identification as well. Today, lack of widespread operational principles as well as limitations in processes and technologies result in inaccurate patient identification, putting patients and providers at risk.
Impact of Patient Identification Issues
MISFILED MAMMOGRAPHY RESULTS
A woman received a routine mammogram. She returned to her provider office for her annual physical the following year and mentioned she never received her mammogram results from the prior year. She expressed relief that nothing was found. Unfortunately, her results were misfiled in the chart of a deceased patient of the same name. When the woman received her results, they showed cancer that had become terminal after the one-year delay.
Same name, different patients
A medical assistant announced a patient’s first name and a man stood up and went to the exam room with her. Once in the room, the assistant did the intake and poked the patient’s finger for an A1C. Meanwhile, a different medical assistant called the same name and a patient stood up and went to the exam room with her. She did vitals and the check in progress, and at the end of her intake, she asked for two identifiers. She then realized she had the wrong patient. She had documented in the wrong chart and found her correct patient was the one who had his finger poked, which was not needed.
Claim Denied for Emergency Appendectomy
A patient presents for an emergency appendectomy, but the insurance provider denies the claim, citing prior removal of appendix. After further evaluation, it was determined the patient’s brother had used his insurance card years prior when he needed the procedure.