Wrong-patient errors (WPE) can have deadly consequences and can happen almost anywhere in the healthcare process, including patient registration, electronic data entry and transfer, medication administration, medical and surgical interventions, blood transfusions, diagnostic testing, and patient monitoring.
Explore this issue:December 2017
“WPE includes any situation in which a patient is identified incorrectly, regardless of whether the error translates into patient harm,” said Michael J. Brenner, MD, associate professor in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor. “I emphasize ‘regardless of harm’ because the vast majority are caught before an injury occurs. However, when significant errors do occur, they can result in death or irreparable injury. At the very least, WPEs profoundly impact on a patient’s trust in our system.”
A recent publication from the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on improving patient care, compiled incident reports documenting 7,631 events from 181 healthcare organizations. Researchers noted that 72.3% of errors occurred during patient encounters and 12.6% at intake; additional findings included the fact that 91.4% of errors were found and corrected before any patient harm occurred (ECRI Institute. PSO Deep Dive: Patient Identification: Executive Summary.).