Patient Misidentification - what is it costing you?

Accurate patient identification has been an ongoing battle in the healthcare industry for years. Every healthcare organization has fallen victim to overlays, duplicate medical records, medical errors, denied claims, etc. due to inaccurate patient identification. Not only do patient identification errors lead to costly financial implications for hospitals, they also threaten patient safety and might even result in a patient death. It’s important for healthcare organizations to understand what patient misidentification leads to, and what they can do to strengthen patient safety and reduce those crippling financial costs.

Inaccurate patient identification can hurt organizations in multiple ways. According to the The Ponemon Institute, the average hospital loses an annual $17.4 million dollars due to denied claims, and with 35% of all medical claims being denied due to patient misidentification, that cost alone is more than enough for any organization to rethink their strategy. According to RightPatient, a biometric patient identification provider, between 8 and 12 percent of hospitals’ medical records are duplicates, and eliminating a single duplicate medical record can cost up to $1,000 each. Patient identification fraud is another costly issue associated with misidentification - the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that US hospitals lose $750,000 - $3 million annually from patient ID fraud in the emergency department alone. Aside from financial costs, patient misidentification can also cost organizations time, one way or another. The average clinician can spend more than 30 minutes each shift contacting medical records/HIM departments to get the correct medical record for their patient(s), costing the average hospital as much as $900,000 per year in lost productivity. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, around 1,000 patients die every day from preventable medical errors; these are compounded when associated with inaccurate patient identification.

There’s no shortage of reasons why patients are inaccurately identified in healthcare organizations. However, according to The Ponemon Institute, 63% of healthcare professionals agree that most incidents of patient misidentification occur during registration. Inability to find a patient’s chart or medical record, searches resulting in multiple or duplicate medical records for a single patient, or patients associated with the wrong birth date are just a handful of common errors in most healthcare facilities; each can be caused by patient misidentification.
If we want to drill down even further, patient misidentification also can be attributed to insufficient employee or clinician training and awareness, registrar errors, and existing duplicate medical record numbers. According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, 92% of duplicate medical records are creating during inpatient registration, a root problem area of patient misidentification.

The Ponemon Institute found that 77% of healthcare executives agree that positive patient identification can be achieved through biometrics, and can reduce the number of issues associated with patient misidentification. Biometric patient identification solutions have been proven to reduce threats to patient safety and save organizations time and money. There are a variety of biometric patient identification solutions available today, each with their own unique functionality and uses; so it’s important to do your research if you’re considering implementing a patient identification solution. If you want some help on beginning your research, Click Here.