A John Hopkin’s study titled: Implementing and Sustaining Improvement in Healthcarefound that an astounding 92% of patient identity errors occur at the time of the registration process. The registration process is understandably complex and requires great attention to detail. However, a busy waiting room, unfamiliar temporary staff, or inadequate workflow procedures can result in duplicate records or complete patient misidentification. The John’s Hopkins study determined that inadequate emphasis was placed on the process of patient identification in the registrar training materials.
Types of patient registration errors you are likely to see
Patient registration errors can appear in several ways:
- General misidentification can lead to duplicate records in the EHR system.
- Patients often present with different names at different times (Robert at one time and Bob the next). This inconsistency can also lead to duplicate records or patient misidentification.
- Several studies have indicated that errors happen more frequently with foreign names. They found that Hispanic, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Navajo and Arabic names were more likely to be false positives in their analyses of duplicate records. The authors suggested that it was likely that ethnic names, unfamiliar to registration clerks and other hospital staff, would have increased occurrences of misspellings. Also, the fields for each person’s name consisted of a first name, middle name, and last name, which may be unsuitable in many cultures.
- 2016 ECRI study found that over half of patient misidentification dealt with either diagnostic procedures (36.5%)or treatment (22%). Documentation problems accounted for an additional 10%.
Cost of patient registration errors
Patient registration errors can lead to medical errors which are both physically harmful to the patient and financially harmful to the healthcare provider.
- Permanente of Southern California has over 10,000 records of people named Maria Gonzales. HIMSS has estimated that 8-14% of medical records include erroneous information tied to an incorrect patient identity with the average cost to correct a duplicate being $100.
- Identification errors can result in duplicate tests being run on the patient to verify results. Research has shown the average cost associated with repeated medical care due to patient misidentification at over $1,000 per instance.
- Patient misidentification costs the average clinician close to 30 minutes in wasted time per shift
- Misidentification contributes to 35% of all medical claims being denied, which is an estimated loss of $17.4 million per year per hospital, per research by The Ponemon Institute (2016 survey).
- Per ECRI’s analysis, almost all events that could’ve caused serious harm to the patient were caught before anything terrible took place. However, there were two submitted events in their study relating to patient identification that led to patient deaths. In both cases, documentation errors played a role in the outcome.
As patients become more aware of actual and potential errors, they not only want to be informed, they want to know that quality improvement efforts will prevent similar future errors.
How to prevent patient registration errors
Patient registration errors can be prevented by taking steps to improve the patient registration process. New registration staff training should emphasize the importance of proper patient identification and explain the ramifications both to the patient and the healthcare facility if errors are made. Healthcare facilities can also employ new biometric technologies which verify the patient at the time of registration in addition to the standard demographics and hard copy documentation. Privasent combines biometric technologies and smart cards to register and authenticate patient identities displacing the error ridden demographics-based approaches currently deployed for patient identification.
The ramifications of errors that do cause patient harm can be avoided with the creation of policies and procedures for averting similar errors from harming future patients. The Joint Commission cites that once errors are identified and the underlying factors/problems or “root causes” are identified, definitive steps should be taken so that similar errors can be reduced and patient safety increased.
To learn more about how the Privasent solution can improve your patient registration process, contact our team today.