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Patient Identification Errors

Prevent Patient Record Mix-Ups Before It’s Too Late

 

It’s no secret that patient identification is a challenge, but unfortunately, a frightening number of “wrong patient, right procedure” mix-ups still occur every day in hospitals and health systems around the country.

For example, an article published on bostonglobe.com highlighted a case at UMass Memorial Medical Center where a patient was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer and underwent unneeded medical procedures before hospital staff discovered a mix-up with the patient’s CT scan results. And, according to the article, this is far from an isolated case of mistaken patient identity at this hospital.

The good news is that there are tools that can help hospitals and health systems prevent such dangerous mistakes.

The RightPatient® Cloud, for example, is designed to prevent mix-ups and cases of mistaken identity by streamlining patient identification procedures and reducing the risk of human error—all while dramatically increasing the chances that that the right patient receives the right treatment from the right providers.

Most hospitals and health systems rely solely on patient identification procedures that require healthcare staff to use two pieces of patient information, such as full name and date of birth, to match patients to their medical records.

However, in today’s bustling healthcare atmosphere, it can be easy for healthcare staff to forget to perform proper patient identification procedures. And, many patients do not speak English, are unconscious or have similar names and birth dates, all of which increase the risk of medical mix-ups.

Healthcare regulators and public health officials are increasingly sending the message to hospitals and health systems that the time to make changes to patient identification procedures is now—before a potentially disastrous mistake occurs. 

By implementing the RightPatient system, hospitals can eliminate patient identification guesswork for healthcare staff. That’s because the RightPatient system captures a photo of each patient upon admission to the hospital.

After the patient is enrolled in the system, the patient’s medical record is locked and can only be opened using the patient’s unique biometric identifiers. The system can be installed on any smartphone or tablet, making it portable enough to meet the unique needs of staff and patients.

Although hospitals are spending millions of dollars on electronic health record systems, population health software and other advanced equipment to protect patients and streamline operations, most of these systems overlook a fundamental aspect of patient safety: Ensuring that healthcare staff are accessing the right records and providing the right care to the right patient.

Prevent Patient Record Mix-Ups Before It's Too Late

  • The bottom line is that healthcare consumers go to hospitals to get well and hard-working doctors and nurses do everything in their power to make that happen. When patients are not identified correctly, bad things happen.
  • The sad fact is that one simple medical record mix-up resulting from a patient mismatch is all that it takes to throw a patient and their family into distress, negate the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses who are trying to help, and damage the reputation of the hospital where the incident occurred.

With RightPatient, all that is required to eliminate these risks is a simple snap of a camera when a patient walks into the hospital. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?

patient safety at senior living facilities

Measuring and Assessing Safety at a Senior Living Facility

patient safety at senior living facilities

Checking safety levels at senior living facilities is important to ensure loved ones are protected.

The following guest post was submitted by Daniel Lofaso

Safety is the primary concern when looking for a senior living community for your loved one. With today’s technology, it would seem easy enough to find security in residential settings, however additional factors should also be considered to ensure your loved one is safe. Visit and tour potential communities and facilities, and consider some of the following safety elements:

Staff style. Try to get a feel for the personality and style of the team behind the senior community. Engage staff to determine if they seem capable of handling day-to-day operations, but also how they might respond in an emergency situation, should one arise.

Level of training. While training may not be an issue in an independent living situation, you will want to find a setting with skilled nurses on staff for a residential or assisted living lifestyle. Make sure that there are team members with experience working with an older population, which may contribute to more comprehensive care, increased engagement, and activities that focus on this particular demographic.

Size of Staff. There are mandates set by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) that dictate the staff-resident ratio in assisted living residences. Typically, senior communities employ more administrative staff than medical or direct-care team members, due to the independent nature of these settings. Perhaps the best solution is a marriage of modalities, such as a step-down senior community that offers both independent living options and skilled-nursing facilities at the same site or on adjacent properties.

Security. You can’t be too vigilant when it comes to security, and most senior living communities are well-equipped to provide safety and peace-of-mind to their residents. When visiting or touring potential living situations, look for cameras, security guards, and protection against potential intruders or predators. A gated community may be the most secure, and could help to keep unwanted visitors, solicitors, or trespassers at bay.

Step-down Systems. When checking out potential living options, consider asking for step-down systems that provide a continuum of care throughout the senior’s lifespan. This could be a residence that offers both independent housing, with assisted care and skilled nursing on the same property, or nearby, to accommodate the resident in the event that they need more intensive care during their tenancy. This can be a great comfort to those living there, as they won’t ever have to face the worrisome prospect of moving again due to illness or injury.

Access to equipment. Based on the senior’s current health and needs, it is integral to find a living situation with access to on-site medical equipment. Devices such as a defibrillator, EDG machine, and oxygen tanks are important in the event of a medical emergency; depending on existing medical conditions, it might also be wise to choose a senior community with access to stress-test machines, sterilizing and diagnostic imaging equipment, too. Ask staff during visits to area residential facilities for more information regarding what equipment is on-site in case it is imminently needed.

Distance from EMS. The most prudent housing solution for any senior is within close proximity to emergency medical services (EMS), should it be needed. Also, be sure that there are some transportation services nearby to assist residents in getting the medical attention that they need promptly. This also makes it convenient to get to area medical appointments for those seeing providers off-site.

Amenities. Choosing a living situation with on-site amenity options can decrease risk of injury and incident. The convenience of on-site amenities can also contribute to the senior’s comfort level and feelings of independence, as they are able to make their own appointments and enjoy services, such as hair, nails, sports, dining, and leisure activities, without requiring the assistance or intervention of family members, friends, or others. This may also appeal to seniors that prefer the security of participation without worrying about getting off-site and transportation issues.

Ramps. Even if seniors don’t need ramps or assistance with mobility now, there is a comfort in knowing that the building has easy-access and handicap features to assist throughout the lifespan. This can parlay any concerns about moving or relocating should the senior experience future limitation, illness, or injury. There are distinct requirements in place regarding accessibility, and more information can be found through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and guidelines.

Dining options and meal service. Be sure that your senior has ready-access to groceries, meals, or dining options that will appeal to them. Furthermore, if there are specific dietary needs or allergy restrictions, let staff know about these requirements when visiting the site. Some senior communities may have a communal dining room option which can foster interaction and socialization among residents. This is a great way for new tenants to make friends and acquaintances in a safe, secure setting.

Safety comes down to more than mere locks on doors when it comes to a senior living situation. Assess and interview residential settings to determine the level of security, staffing, access, and features your potential dwelling has. Take a tour of facilities to find the best fit based on the senior’s needs and possible limitations, as well as those communities that will foster and encourage independence. Be sure to confirm and ask about the privacy policies of the community, to ensure that the confidentiality and autonomy of the senior is a priority.

Daniel Lofaso is the Community Outreach Manager for Lourdes Noreen Mckeen, a retirement and independent living facility in West Palm Beach, FL.

biometric patient identification prevents healthcare fraud

RightPatient® Prevents Healthcare Fraud at University Health System

RightPatient® Prevents Healthcare Fraud at University Health System

Through the use of photo biometrics, the University Health System was able to catch a patient attempting to commit healthcare fraud in the ED.

Healthcare Fraud Jeopardizes Patient Safety and Raises the Cost of Care

Emergency Departments (ED) can be subjected to healthcare fraud from individuals without insurance seeking care, especially those with manageable chronic conditions. These patients often go to hospital EDs because they don’t have access to any source of care and in a large number of cases, attempt to defraud the healthcare system by providing different names, dates of birth, or other demographic information during registration. 

Hospital patient access staff on alert for healthcare fraud often must strike a tricky balance of ensuring a patient receives timely care with the need to identify and prevent these individuals from illegally obtaining medical services that could raise liability and possibly harm the patient.

Patients who may be trying to defraud the system can raise the cost of care for all of us with most of the cost to treat these individuals passed on to insurance providers that raise premiums to subsidize care provided to the uninsured. It’s a persistent problem in healthcare that jeopardizes patient safety.

Medical Identity Theft and Healthcare Fraud are Persistent Patient Safety Problems in Healthcare

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) estimates that the financial losses due to health care fraud are in the tens of billions of dollars each year. The Ponemon Institute released a study earlier this year that reported a 21.7% increase in medical identity theft cases since the previous year’s study.

A costly and often complex and time consuming issue to resolve, healthcare fraud and medical identity theft often financially decimate victims and healthcare institutions and can have a ripple effect that negatively impacts provider reputation. Add to that evolving patient expectations that healthcare providers are taking the necessary steps to protect their identities and ensure the privacy of their protected health information (PHI), and it’s clear that this is a festering problem in the industry that deserves immediate and swift preventative action.

Implementing Biometric Patient Identification to Identify Potential Healthcare Fraud

When University Health System staff sat down to address the problem of healthcare fraud and began to assess patient authentication technology options that had the potential to prevent it, they decided to deploy RightPatient® biometric patient identification as part of an overall strategy to increase patient safety, eliminate duplicate medical records, and prevent medical identity theft and fraud throughout their network. Using photo biometrics as their preferred modality, University launched the RightPatient® patient identification system in the summer of 2015 at both hospitals in their network and began registering patients and linking their unique biometric credentials to a single electronic health record (EHR).

Thusfar, the deployment has been a resounding success, with over 99% of patients opting in to ensure the safety and privacy of their PHI. University placed a great deal of emphasis to ensure their staff understood why the RightPatient® solution was implemented and meticulously trained patient access personnel on how to properly use the system prior to launch.

Their efforts paid off.

Recently, a patient was registered through the ED in the RightPatient® system, and then returned to the same ED days later claiming a different date of birth and a different last name. Following hospital registration protocol, the patient access representative took the patient’s photo with an iris camera and the RightPatient® system immediately flagged the patient’s medical record and instantly notified staff that the patient had previously enrolled with their biometric credentials already linked to another unique EHR. University staff then realized that the patient was attempting to assume another identity and took action to prevent it.

Even if this patient had enrolled in the RightPatient® biometric patient identification system at another location within University’s network, they still would have been flagged as a potential fraud case if they returned to a different facility due to the fact that RightPatient® seamlessly integrated with University’s Epic EHR system and can be used at any point along the care continuum, regardless of the patient’s physical location within the network (RightPatient® can even be used to authenticate an identity on patient portals and mHealth applications!).

Conclusion

The persistent and dangerous problem of medical identity theft and healthcare fraud is a direct threat to patient safety but also has repercussions that impact many other facets of care delivery. Implementing modern patient identification technologies that have the unique ability to prevent healthcare fraud should be a key goal for any medical facility set on improving safety, lowering liability, and raising the quality of care. The University Health System case clearly demonstrates that RightPatient® deters medical identity theft and healthcare fraud throughout the care continuum by linking a patient’s unique biometric credentials to one medical record.

Thank you to the staff at University for allowing us to share this story with our community!