Accreditation

ECRI: Most wrong-patient errors are preventable

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, October 1, 2018

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 Despite there being a number of methods to correctly identify patients, wrong-patient procedures still occur with distressing frequency. Many if not all of these errors are preventable, yet they still came in third on this year’s sentinel event list.

ECRI Institute is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that works to improve the safety and quality of patient care. In 2016, the institute reviewed 7,600 wrong-patient events in 181 hospitals and found that around 9% of these errors resulted in a patient being hurt or dying. 

"Although many healthcare workers doubt they will actually make a mistake in identifying their patients, ECRI Institute’s Patient Safety Organization (PSO) and our partner PSOs have collected thousands of reports that show this isn't the case," says William M. Marella, MBA, MMI, ECRI Institute’s executive director of PSO operations and analytics. "We've seen that anyone on the patient's healthcare team can make an identification error, including physicians, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, and transporters."

The ECRI Institute report said the big drivers of patient mix-ups are increased patient volume, multiple handoffs, and interoperability issues between IT systems. The report also found:

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