Patient Misidentification Puts People at Risk of Injury and Death

by | Sep 27, 2016 | Firm News, General Interest, Medical Malpractice |

If you’re misdiagnosed or mistreated because a doctor wasn’t
looking at the right chart, you aren’t alone. Thousands of people
suffer from these mistakes every year. There is little for patients or
their families to do but to file a medical malpractice claim following an event.

When it comes down to it, patient identification is the first step for
doctors. They have charts in front of them, but if the patient doesn’t
match the information, then a real problem presents itself. How can you
treat a patient if you don’t have the right medical information?
Frankly, you can’t.

Researchers studying patient safety found that in over 7,600 cases of wrong
patient errors in a 2.5-years study starting in 2013 resulted in over
181 fatalities. The shocking part of this was that around 90 percent of
errors were caught before they hurt patients, showing just how many really
take place. Some patients may not even know that errors were made.

How do patient errors take place? It can be as simple as grabbing the wrong
chart or mixing up patients with the same name. One example was a patient
who was in surgery; the patient went into cardiac arrest, and the doctors
did not resuscitate him. The problem was that the decision was based on
a do-not-resuscitate order for a different patient.

Around 13 percent of errors are made when patients are registering, while
another 22 are made when tests and procedures are being performed. Patients
in these cases sometimes didn’t receive wristbands or had illegible
bands. Some were simply not checked by the staff.


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