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Patient Misidentification Puts People at Risk of Injury and Death

The Lancione Law Firm

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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