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Another Patient Mix-Up Leads to the Wrong Surgery – Are These Preventable?

We’ve seen and already covered many patient misidentification stories. These range from a mistaken patient identity that almost led to huge financial losses, wrong patient surgery cases that caused kidney transplant mix-ups, to a patient identification error that caused the wrong patient to be taken off of life support. Clearly, patient misidentification can cause serious to life-changing consequences for anyone involved. Unfortunately, today’s article is no different – the patient involved underwent a life-altering surgery only to find out that it was a case of a patient mix-up.

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That being said, let’s take a closer look at what exactly occurred, how patient mix-up cases can lead to drastic consequences, and how they demonstrate the importance of accurate patient identification.

A patient mix-up led to misdiagnosis and laparoscopic prostatectomy

There’s probably nothing worse than being told by your physician that you have a deadly disease, right? What about being told you actually don’t have the disease AFTER the life-changing surgery? 

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened with Eric Spang, 48, a man who lived happily with his family in Pennsylvania before he was misdiagnosed with prostate cancer. After learning the truth, Mr. Spang, quite naturally, became depressed and devastated both physically and emotionally.

Everything was going quite normally in Mr. Spang’s life until he received the results from a routine prostate screening. His physician informed him that he, unfortunately, had a common indicator of prostate cancer – elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. The later course of action was to get a biopsy to see if it indeed was cancerous or not – this is where the patient mix-up occurred and changed everything for both the patients and their families.

Mr. Spang got the biopsy result back – it was positive. The physicians recommended a laparoscopic prostatectomy – his entire prostate gland would be removed. After discussing it with his wife, Mr. Spang chose to go for the surgery, hoping that it would save his life and put an end to this nightmare.

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The bad news didn’t end here for the family, unfortunately. After the surgery, Mr. Spang and his wife found out that he didn’t have prostate cancer – the biopsy result belonged to an entirely different patient! While under different circumstances this might have been good news, it wasn’t for Mr. Spang – the irreparable damage had been done. Quite understandably, Mr. Spang was devastated.

Mr. Spang’s attorney, Aaron Friedwald, has filed a malpractice suit against Tower Health as well as the urology group. One of the reasons for this is because Mr. Spang wanted a second biopsy done to see if the results were consistent or not.  However, his urologist did not recommend it, whereas his physician said that his prostate looked good as other tests showed no worrying issues. Getting a second biopsy might have cost a bit more, but it would’ve saved Mr. Spang from the entirely unnecessary surgery and devastation.

Patient mix-ups are a huge cause for concern

Well, this misdiagnosis can be traced back to patient mix-ups – something caused by patient misidentification. Moreover, this is just one case, and as we mentioned in the beginning, we’ve covered cases like this in the past. However, these are the ones that are reported – what about those that go unnoticed and undetected? Imagine getting a kidney removed and finding out that it was entirely unnecessary or getting the kidney that was meant for another patient!

All of these mix-ups have drastic consequences for patients, their families, as well as healthcare providers. Patients’ and their family’s lives are irreversibly changed and they can file a malpractice suit against the healthcare providers and other parties involved. Not only do such cases attract unwanted attention to the hospitals but it also increases litigation costs, loss of goodwill, and might even cause patients to switch to other healthcare providers. 

However, these consequences are entirely avoidable with positive patient identification across the care continuum, and that’s what RightPatient does.

RightPatient prevents mix-ups across the care continuum

Leading healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center, University Health Care System, and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital are using RightPatient to identify patients accurately, prevent mix-ups, and protect patient records.

Patients are quite receptive to the touchless biometric patient identification platform. During hospital visits, RightPatient takes a photo of the patient and attaches it to the patient’s EHR after running a search to see if it already exists in any other EHR, preventing duplicates. Afterward, these patients only need to look at the camera – RightPatient runs a search and upon finding a match, provides the accurate medical record.

For remote patients, the patients are sent an SMS with a link to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license or similar information – RightPatient compares the photos for a match and remotely authenticates patient identities. 

Doing so every time the patient visits, in-person or otherwise, ensures that the accurate information is being fed to the appropriate EHR – preventing transplant mix-ups, patient safety incidents, and even medical identity theft.

How are YOU preventing such disastrous cases at your healthcare facility?

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Electronic Medical Record Errors Are Preventable with Positive Patient Identification

We’ve been talking about several topics such as medical identity theft, duplicate medical records, COVID-19, revenue cycle management, data breaches, and more. However, the one point we keep coming back to is electronic medical record errors. This has been a cause of concern among healthcare providers and patients, but it doesn’t end there. The consequences of medical record errors extend to insurance providers, healthcare staff members, physicians, and even the patients’ family members!

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What many fail to grasp is that most of these errors are not caused by the EHR systems themselves, but are caused by external factors. One of the foremost reasons is that there’s no effective, standardized patient identifier present. This alone leads to medical record mix-ups, duplicates, and other errors – more on that later.

Let’s take a look at EHR error statistics, the consequences caused by them, and how positive patient identification can mitigate them.

Statistics regarding electronic medical record errors

A recent study focused on the frequency and types of EHR issues perceived by patients which shed light on a number of insightful statistics. Over 136,000 patients received the invitation to participate, and over 29,000 patients responded. 22,889 viewed 1 or more notes within one year. Out of these 22,889 patients, 21% (4,830) of them witnessed mistakes. Out of these 4,830 patients, 43% said that the mistakes were serious, 32.4% said that it was somewhat serious, and 9.9% said that it was very serious.

When asked about what kind of issues they saw within their EHRs, the most common response was diagnosis errors. For instance, many saw that a disease they didn’t have was listed in the EHR! Can you imagine the consequences of this? 

Others witnessed wrong medical history, medication errors, and so on.

Most of these issues, if not all of them, can be traced back to the lack of accurate patient identification – let’s see how. 

How patient misidentification creates electronic medical record errors

It’s quite simple – since there’s no effective and standardized patient identifier present in the U.S. healthcare system, EHR issues are bound to occur. An EHR system houses thousands and can even hold millions of medical records. It’s quite natural to have many patients with the same name, especially if it’s a common one.

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Now, if a patient named “James Smith” turns up, the EHR user will see that there are several medical records associated with the same name. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that the patient’s record is under the same name – it might be saved as “Jim Smith”.

Also, most EHRs provide basic search functionality, and with the registration area being a high-pressure environment, the EHR user needs to select the appropriate medical record quickly. If the hospital isn’t using an effective patient identifier, the registrar either creates an entirely new medical record or chooses the wrong one – creating the potential for medical record errors. 

While that’s how patient misidentification and electronic medical record errors are related, let’s take a look at some of the consequences.

Consequences of EHR errors and patient misidentification

EHR errors, bolstered by inaccurate patient identification:

  • Increase duplicates and overlays within the EHR system
  • Jeopardize patient safety
  • Hamper patient data integrity
  • Lead to patient record mix-ups
  • Create medication administration errors
  • Increase denied claims
  • Cause patients to go through repeated lab tests
  • Increase hospital readmissions
  • Create detrimental patient outcomes 

It’s not very surprising that patient identification errors have been occurring for a long time, and only a handful of healthcare providers have been proactive regarding preventing such issues within their facilities. These responsible healthcare providers have been using RightPatient to prevent such issues by ensuring accurate patient identification.

RightPatient ensures positive patient identification

RightPatient is the number one choice of leading healthcare providers – they’ve been using our touchless biometric patient identification platform to protect millions of patient records. 

RightPatient is easy to use and becomes a part of the EHR workflow. During registration, the platform requires patients to simply look at the camera – the platform takes a photo of the patient and essentially “locks” the EHR with it. Already registered patients then only need to look at the camera – RightPatient runs a search to match the live photo with the saved one – it’s that easy!

RightPatient has a vast amount of experience with several diverse hospitals, making it a clear choice to ensure accurate patient identification, prevent medical record errors, and more.

Are YOU preventing medical record errors successfully at your healthcare facility?

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Patient Verification Helps Hospitals Deal with Decreasing Revenue as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Hospitals and health systems are constantly being challenged by the pandemic. Sure, COVID-19 has affected virtually every business – many organizations have declared bankruptcy while others have shuttered their doors. However, most, if not all of these organizations, had their employees work from home. Healthcare providers, on the other hand, had to face unprecedented challenges head-on, such as frontline healthcare teams risking their lives, losing billions of dollars, patient verification issues, data breaches, and more.

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Unfortunately, it looks like the battle with COVID-19 is far from over for healthcare providers. With the Delta variant once again wreaking havoc, caregivers are experiencing razor-thin margins. That being said, accurate patient verification CAN prevent many issues, helping hospitals survive this challenging period. Let’s take a look at a few stats that show how concerning the new variant is and how positive patient identification can help caregivers.

Some recent statistics that show a rise in margins and expenses 

While things were definitely getting better with millions being vaccinated across the U.S. and businesses slowly opening up, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has struck back with full force. While healthcare providers have been facing lower losses and improved margins when compared to the first half of 2020, a new report sheds light on many facts. While many indicators show that things are going in the right direction, some show that the effects of COVID-19 are far from over.

The “median operating margin index” in June was 2.8%, excluding funding from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relied, and Economic Security) Act. When taking funding into account, it was 4.3%.

What do these numbers mean for hospitals and health systems? Well, it’s an increase of almost 90% (excluding CARES Act Funding) or 48.7% (including the funding) when compared to the first half of 2020. All of these numbers are based on 900 hospitals that have participated monthly for the last three years. 

When it comes to patient volumes, it’s a mixed bag. Patient volumes were higher when compared to 2020, but lower than they were before the pandemic. For those who want specifics, discharges between January and June of 2021 were 10.1% higher than in the first half of 2020, but when compared to the first half of 2019, patient volumes are down 4.4%. A similar trend can be seen for ER visits in hospitals, i.e. higher than in the first half of 2020 but lower than in the first half of 2019.

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Fortunately, the revenue of hospitals and health systems has increased compared to both 2020 and 2019! According to the same report mentioned above, this is because of outpatient visits. “Gross operating revenue,” excluding CARES Act funding for January to June of this year, was 18.2% higher than the same period of 2020 and 7.9% higher than the same period of 2019.

But all of these statistics look good for hospitals, right?

Well, while all of these do look good, expenses have also increased – affecting margins significantly. The first half of 2021 saw an 8.5% rise in expenses when compared to the first half of last year, and an increase of almost 10% when compared to the first half of 2019. 

While margins are increasing, expenses are increasing as well

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over – the Delta variant has reached the U.S. and has been in the news for the past few weeks. While healthcare providers have opened their doors to regular patients, COVID-19 cases are spiking once again, and this might be detrimental to hospital margins according to an official associated with the study mentioned above. 

Hospitals need to identify ways to reduce losses, improve patient safety, and avoid unwanted incidents that hurt the bottom line. But how can patient verification help?

How patient verification helps improve hospital margins

Accurate patient identification has been a topic of discussion for several years now, and identification errors have also given rise to a number of studies.

Accurate patient identification helps

  • Prevent medical record errors such as duplicate medical records and overlays
  • Prevent medical identity theft in real-time
  • Protect patient data integrity
  • Reduce denied claims by ensuring accurate, consistent information within medical records
  • Prevent medical errors that might lead to patient safety incidents
  • Avoid dangerous patient mix-ups, including transplant mix-ups
  • Ensure CMS compliance by sending out proper e-notifications to appropriate caregivers
  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Reduce hospital readmissions

All of the above, when considered together, can drastically reduce losses and improve a hospital’s margin. We know this because our leading patient identification platform has been helping several healthcare providers for years.

Patient verification made easy with RightPatient

A number of healthcare providers have chosen RightPatient to manage their patients’ medical records. In a post-pandemic world, RightPatient’s touchless patient ID platform makes the most sense, as it keeps everyone safe by preventing physical contact (when compared to other methods of identification). 

RightPatient reduces denied claims, improves patient safety, prevents duplicates and overlays, and prevents patient identity theft – boosting the bottom line of hospitals. 

How are YOU planning to reduce losses and improve margins at your healthcare facility?

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Improving Patient Safety in Virtual & In-Person Visits is a Must as COVID Cases Spike

While it seemed like the pandemic was waning in the U.S., it looks like it’s far from over. Unfortunately, the delta variant is here to wreak havoc once again – just look at the current scenario of the COVID-19 spikes across the states. The delta variant has even forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its guidance on wearing masks. CDC has once again asked even fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, a decision that has sparked backlash and confusion among the general public. That being said, let’s take a closer look at the current situation, what hospitals are doing now, and how improving patient safety during patient visits (both in-person and virtual) is crucial – something that RightPatient can help with.

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COVID cases are increasing once again

Florida has seen a huge spike – over 21,000 cases in a single day, and this is the highest since the pandemic! Earlier, the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day was slightly over 19,000 for the state.

Florida has also set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations – around 10,207 patients who were infected with the notorious virus. The previous record of the state was 10,170 patients per day.

Moreover, in San Fransico, around 233 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19, most of who were fully vaccinated. 

In Massachusetts, there was a new surge of COVID-19 patients, and almost three-fourths of them were fully vaccinated! 

Vaccinations are increasing too, fortunately!

Amongst all of the havoc caused by this new COVID-19 surge, vaccinations are fortunately increasing too. Around 800,000 people were vaccinated on July 25th – the highest doses in a single day in weeks. 

How are hospitals responding?

Hospitals, especially in the U.S., never seem to catch a break, do they? 

Well, many hospitals, if not all, are facing an increased number of patients – both COVID-19 and otherwise. Unfortunately, the non-COVID-19 cases are due to COVID-19 itself, ironically. These are the patients who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get healthcare services since the pandemic began. 

For instance, according to an official at Stanford Healthcare, they are completely full and are “outstripping” beds every day. These include both COVID and non-COVID cases. However, the non-COVID-19 ones need urgent care as they are quite ill. They delayed elective procedures themselves, or their dates were pushed back, due to, you guessed it, the pandemic.

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Many hospitals, as a result, are once again, working hard towards improving patient safety. Healthcare providers are either postponing or reducing non-emergency and elective surgeries at their facilities. Others are changing their visitation policies, such as restricting in-person patient visitors (barring exceptional cases), allowing virtual visits, minimizing patient visitors, and so on. 

As for providing healthcare services, the pandemic already showed how telehealth can be used to care for non-COVID-19 patients – the latter can just be in their homes and avail healthcare services. In fact, many healthcare providers are incentivizing patients for using telehealth during the surge. Lee Health, for instance, is waiving its charges for certain virtual visits. 

However, the doors are still open for critical non-COVID-19 patients, and for improving patient safety, hospitals need to implement strategies that eliminate physical contact, prevent infection control issues, and improve patient outcomes

RightPatient can help with all of that, fortunately.

Improving patient safety with RightPatient

RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient ID platform used by several healthcare providers. However, other than ensuring positive patient identification, using RightPatient benefits hospitals and patients in several ways.

RightPatient is perfect for the post-pandemic world as it identifies patients accurately safely and hygienically.

For appointment scheduling and virtual visits, patients only need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license during the registration process – RightPatient does the rest. For in-person visits, patients only need to look at the camera during the registration or verification process.

All of this ensures that the accurate medical record is selected every time, all without requiring the patient to touch any screens or devices – reducing infection control issues.

RightPatient also ensures that accurate information is fed into the appropriate EHRs each time – boosting patient data integrity, improving patient outcomes, and more. 

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification, is touchless, improves patient outcomes, prevents patient safety incidents, and reduces infection control issues for everyone in the facilities.

How are YOU improving patient safety at your healthcare facility?

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Misidentification of Patients Can Cause Deaths – How Are Hospitals Preventing Them?

Unfortunately, misidentification of patients is something that’s still a prominent issue in hospitals and health systems. In fact, just a few weeks ago, there was a patient who received the wrong kidney, which was just one example of the many wrong patient surgery cases. Fortunately, the patient survived but just imagine the implications if the patient didn’t live! Not everyone recovers from patient misidentification mishaps unscratched – some even lose their lives. 

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Although these cases are occurring more frequently, most healthcare providers are responding reactively rather than being proactive and preventing such cases entirely. That being said, let’s take a look at a couple of other patient mix-up cases and how RightPatient is ensuring identity management in healthcare facilities to avoid such cases.

Misidentification of patients – a few more cases

A patient got the wrong medications

This one is an old story but is worth mentioning since it shows the actual dangers of patient misidentification. A patient, Z, had gone in for cancer treatment and the patient mix-up occurred in a busy registration area, something that is quite typical in hospitals. The EHR user was quite new but followed the facility’s rules – she entered the patient’s name according to the driver’s license. Unfortunately, she clicked on the first EHR that appeared without checking the others or inspecting them to see if this was the patient’s medical record or not. She was oblivious to the fact that there can be other patients with the same exact name – something that is quite a common issue.

The patient was given a wristband with the wrong information. Later down the line, the EHR user asked the patient whether it was accurate or not – the patient responded positively. However, during a testimony down the line, the patient said that he wasn’t wearing any glasses to be able to verify it accurately and was actually depending on the hospital to ensure his safety. 

The patient was later sent to a busy area and the nurse asked whether his name was Z or not and also his birthdate – the most common (but unreliable) patient identifiers used. While the patient agreed, a mistake had already been made – as a result, the patient received chemotherapy for an entirely different patient whose name was also Z but had a different D.O.B.

During the same testimony, it was found out that this all happened because of miscommunication – the room was too loud so that the patient couldn’t hear properly, and he also said that the nurse had an accent that was difficult to understand. The nurse, on the other hand, said that the instructions were written as “day 1, day 8”, and she assumed that the patient came in on the scheduled day. All of these problems could’ve been avoided with positive patient identification using RightPatient – more on that later.

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Fortunately, while the patient received the wrong treatment, the side effects were few, although, it was classified as wrong medication administration, something that’s quite common when misidentification of patients occurs.

While patient Z was extremely lucky to have survived, not everyone does – just like the patient in the next case. 

The wrong patient was taken off of life support

This was quite a devastating case – the wrong patient was taken off life support

The patient, Samuel (pseudonym), was apparently admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital and was unconscious. Later down the line, it was detected that due to OD, he was left in a vegetative state and required life support. His sister was contacted, and after a few days, she made the very difficult decision to take her brother off of life support. 

Afterwards, it was identified that it wasn’t actually her brother but a different person entirely! Once again, this is a case of misidentification of patients. When the actual patient was admitted to the ER, the social security card identified him with his actual name (Samuel Richard Jackson). However, the hospital staff chose the medical record of Samuel Jackson, an entirely different patient. While the patient’s fate might have been uncertain, at least the proper family would’ve been notified if the accurate medical record was chosen. 

As can clearly be seen, patient identification errors have severe consequences for everyone involved. The patients receive the wrong medication and treatments, resulting in detrimental healthcare outcomes, hospital readmissions, or even deaths, whereas the healthcare providers face lawsuits, suffer from losses, and lose goodwill. All of this is entirely preventable by ensuring accurate patient identification.

RightPatient eliminates misidentification of patients

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patients in several healthcare facilities with its touchless biometric patient identification platform. During the registration process, it attaches a photo of the patient to their EHR, “locking” them essentially. Even if a patient with the same name or characteristics comes up, the registered patients’ records will be safe, since their faces don’t match. 

By identifying patients accurately right from appointment scheduling, check-in, and beyond, RightPatient eliminates chances of duplicate medical records, overlays, and patient mix-ups.

How are YOU preventing such mix-ups within your healthcare facility?

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Another One Added to Wrong Patient Surgery Cases – Is Patient Misidentification To Blame?

We’ve been talking about patient misidentification for quite a long time now, and for very good reasons. While many think that patient identification errors in hospitals are not that common or serious, but every now and then, a piece of news comes up that shows just how serious it can be. This time, a patient received a kidney that was actually meant for someone else – can you imagine? Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the unfortunate tale and see how wrong patient surgery cases can be prevented with positive patient identification. 

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A classic case of transplant mix-up

This unfortunate case of transplant mix-up is exactly what we warn healthcare professionals against – we’ve seen our fair share of wrong patient surgery cases.

It occurred in University Hospitals (UH) on the 2nd of July, and fortunately, the recipient survived, as the kidney was compatible with the patient. The patient is slowly recovering, according to a spokesperson, and the surgery of the actual patient who was supposed to get the kidney has been delayed. UH also notified UNOS (United Network for organ Sharing) about the transplant mix-up.

Moreover, UH isn’t divulging any more details about the situation as of now – they are analyzing the situation, investigating what caused the issue, and are working so that it never occurs again. However, the employees that were involved with the medical error are on administrative leave until the issue is figured out. 

However, while this might seem quite unusual, wrong patient surgery cases do occur every now and then – something which we can confidently say occurs because of patient mix-ups due to poor patient identification systems. 

Wrong patient surgery cases are uncommon, but not unheard of

Back in 2019, before the pandemic changed everything, wrong patient identification led to another transplant mix-up in Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center (which we’ve covered already). Coincidentally, it also was a case of a kidney transplant.

However, this was a much more transparent case as the patients had a similar name and age – something that we very well know leads to patient mix-ups, among other things. Fortunately, in that case, the patient who got the kidney survived as it was a perfect match. 

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This case was also reported to UNOS and the patient who was supposed to get the kidney had the transplant down the line. 

However, in UH’s case, the patient who’s supposed to get the transplant is still on the waiting list. As already mentioned, UH isn’t releasing any details about the mix-up – but we are too familiar with such cases. 

Wrong patient surgery cases occur due to poor patient identification

In Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center’s case, the patients had common names and were of similar age. This is a classic case of patient identification errors. Patient’s medical records are usually mixed up during registration, and if they have common characteristics, such devastating cases are generated. 

We believe that whatever occurred in UH was due to patient misidentification, or the lack of proper patient identification.

Medical record mix-ups, poor quality patient data, medication administration errors, wrong transplants, detrimental healthcare outcomes, mistreatments, and adverse incidents are just some of the consequences of poor patient identification, and can even claim patients’ lives. The patients involved in the two wrong patient surgery cases above are extremely lucky to be alive – not everyone makes it out alive. 

Such transplant mix-ups or patient mix-ups are deadly, but they ARE preventable – as long as the healthcare provider is ensuring accurate patient identification. We’re so concerned about such cases is because we help responsible hospitals and health systems prevent patient mix-ups with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform, RightPatient. 

RightPatient prevents patient mix-ups and patient safety incidents

RightPatient prevents patient identification errors right from the start. It takes patients’ photos during registration and locks the medical records with them. Whenever a patient comes up later on, the platform provides the accurate medical record after comparing the saved photo with the live one. This makes sure that patient mix-ups are eliminated, as it uses the one characteristic that cannot be mixed up – patients’ faces. 

RightPatient has a vast amount of experience with ensuring accurate patient identification in several hospitals and health systems, and we’re confident that it could’ve prevented such cases. 

Are you preventing such mix-ups at your healthcare facility effectively?

EHRs-need-accurate-patient-data-RightPatient

The Importance of EHRs Shows Why Medical Record Errors Must be Prevented

When caregivers are asked about the most important tool they have at their disposal to treat their patients, what answers are expected? Some would say their healthcare team, the cutting edge technology/procedures they have access to, the different solutions they have that improve healthcare outcomes, and so on. However, the most underrated and crucial tool is definitely the electronic health records or EHRs. Think of it – where would healthcare be without EHRs? EHRs ensure that the right information regarding the right patient is provided to the right medical team. However, this is applicable only as long as certain issues are prevented, especially medical record errors.

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That being said, let’s take a deeper dive into how EHRs are the most important tool for healthcare providers and why ensuring patient data integrity is a must. 

Healthcare is evolving but the starting point remains the same

Let’s go back to a time before the deadly pandemic. If someone went to a healthcare provider and told them that telehealth would become mainstream in the future, the provider would most likely say that they’re crazy! Look at the reality now – telehealth is still preferred by many, even while users are decreasing due to hospitals opening up. 

Healthcare has been evolving – rapidly in some areas and steadily in others. One certain thing is that healthcare isn’t limited to the four walls of hospitals and health systems anymore – one of the consequences of the pandemic. However, whether it’s in-person visits or virtual ones (telehealth/telemedicine), the foundation for providing care to patients remains the same – EHRs. 

EHRs are more important than most realize 

Patients, caregivers, and others are quite satisfied with telehealth now.

Patients on the younger side have stated that they would like to continue using telehealth even if the national health emergency is over. That’s probably because it’s more convenient, easier, and safer – all the patients need is an internet connection with a communication device. 

Caregivers have a bit more complex process to go through. 

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Caregivers who are providing telehealth services have to consider a lot of factors – the telehealth platform, the portal, the EHR system, identifying the right patient, rules and regulations, ensuring patient safety online, and more. Also, while providing virtual services to the patients, the physicians need to ensure that the necessary information is being fed to the EHRs of the patients accurately – just as they do during an in-person visit. 

The bottom line is that whether the healthcare provider is seeing the patient within their facility or online, the one thing that basically remains constant is the patient’s EHR. However, issues such as medical record errors can mess EHRs up, derailing healthcare outcomes among other things – let’s see how. 

Why it’s crucial to prevent medical record errors

One of the starting points of providing healthcare is the EHR. When the patient interacts with their healthcare provider, usually to schedule an appointment, one of the first things done by the caregiver is pulling up the patient’s EHR. It basically provides the entire medical history, recent lab test results, and other information required to treat the patient. Moreover, any new information captured by the caregiver will be added to the EHR. EHRs, by providing timely, relevant, comprehensive, and accurate information to the physicians, improve healthcare outcomes, optimize healthcare delivery, boost coordinated care, and reduce adverse events. 

Now, imagine if an inaccurate EHR is selected – the consequences can be devastating! 

Medical record errors such as duplicates and overlays lead to patient mix-ups. Patient A’s treatment will be based on patient B’s medical record, leading to detrimental healthcare outcomes, adverse effects, and worse. Patient data within the EHRs becomes unreliable as it is fragmented, erroneous, and inconsistent. 

However, all of this can be prevented with positive patient identification with RightPatient.

RightPatient prevents medical record errors – and more!

By identifying patients correctly right off the bat, RightPatient ensures that accurate, high-quality data is fed to the EHRs every time the patient checks in for a healthcare visit. Patients only need to look at the camera – the touchless biometric patient identification platform does the rest.

With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers are not only ensuring patient data integrity, but they are also improving patient outcomes, preventing patient safety incidents, and providing optimal healthcare services to patients.

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Hospitals that Identify Patients Correctly Enjoy Several Benefits

We typically talk about grave situations – stories of patient mix-ups, healthcare data breaches, medical identity theft cases, denied claims, and more. However, this time, we will look at the more positive aspects – the additional benefits that healthcare providers who identify patients correctly enjoy. These range from preventing unwanted patient safety incidents within the premises to enhancing patient outcomes.

However, did you know that our touchless biometric patient identification platform can provide far more benefits? More on that later – let’s dive deep into the topmost benefits of ensuring proper patient identification in hospitals.

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Why hospitals must identify patients correctly 

Well, in order to understand that, first, one must understand why patient identification is such a big deal. For starters, patient identification is quite problematic in the U.S. healthcare system for several reasons. Since no effective standardized patient identifier has ever been implemented in the U.S., healthcare providers use different methods, solutions, or strategies to verify their patients, and most of them suffer from patient identification errors and the consequences that follow.

Fortunately, responsible healthcare providers don’t have to suffer from these issues because they have made patient safety their number one priority. These providers are utilizing effective solutions like RightPatient to eliminate errors by helping them identify patients correctly. 

So, what are the benefits of accurately identifying patients? 

Top benefits enjoyed by hospitals that identify patients correctly

Prevents fraudulent cases right from the start

Although wrong patient identification and medical identity theft are both crucial issues of the U.S. healthcare system, many don’t know that preventing the former can also prevent the latter.

It’s quite simple – since there’s no standardized and rigid way to identify patients accurately in most hospitals, fraudsters aren’t identified right off the bat. In fact, many medical identity theft cases remain undetected until the patient receives a shocking bill or notices anomalies with their EHRs. 

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Hospitals that identify patients correctly can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. When the fraudster comes in, proper patient identification will help officials flag them and catch them red-handed.

This is also applicable even in the case of data breaches. Even if healthcare data is breached, accurate identification will lead to fraudsters being caught in the act, preventing medical identity theft and reducing substantial expenses of rectifying medical record errors and litigation costs down the line.

Prevents expensive and dangerous medical record errors

One of the reasons why patient identification is such a mess has already been mentioned – the lack of an effective patient identifier. However, another reason is the overwhelming medical record errors that already exist in the systems. Duplicate medical records and overlays, namely, have been causing patient mix-ups, leading to the wrong patients getting transplants, incorrect treatments, and more. These duplicate medical record errors typically are created during the registration process, and both their creation and use can be eliminated if patients are identified accurately.

See, if the patient is accurately identified right from the start and the appropriate medical record is used throughout the patient’s medical care history, then duplicates and overlays can be avoided – eliminating the issues caused by them for both caregivers and patients, preserving authentic patient data. This leads to another benefit of proper patient identification.

Ensures patient data integrity

As mentioned, medical record errors, and patient misidentification in general, lead to patient data corruption. Unless patient data integrity is maintained, the information is useless for healthcare providers and quite dangerous for patients. Imagine if a patient has cancer but gets treated for heart disease – it would be catastrophic! 

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Patient data integrity failures lead to the wrong treatment plans, detrimental healthcare outcomes, readmissions, and even deaths. However, accurate patient identification ensures that the correct information is being recorded in the appropriate medical records – ensuring patient data integrity.

Enhances patient safety

By now, it should be clear that positive patient identification prevents a plethora of issues such as duplicates, patient data corruption, medical identity theft, among other things. However, identifying patients accurately also leads to better healthcare outcomes and prevents medical errors, improving patient safety in the process.

Medical errors caused by mix-ups are prevented which also reduces readmissions – improving patient outcomes. Accurate information arms healthcare providers with the relevant details about the right patient, helping them make informed decisions, something that’s not possible when patients are wrongly identified. 

Reduces denied claims

Denied claims are a huge burden for any given healthcare provider, however, most of them can be prevented with accurate patient identification. Let’s look at an example of exactly how denied claims and patient misidentification are related. 

Suppose a patient, A, comes in for a checkup and the physician recommends a follow-up, and a small surgical procedure is planned. During the first two visits, A has been identified properly and their medical record includes the proper information. However, prior to the surgery, A is misidentified and the wrong EHR is assigned. Moving forward, everything will be recorded in the wrong EHR.

Now, when it comes to receiving payment for the surgery, the hospital sends a claim to the patient’s insurance provider. However, when the insurance company detects inaccurate coding due to incorrect information, the insurance company “denies” the claim. These billing and coding errors need to be fixed which takes up a considerable amount of resources and time – creating inefficiencies.

Denied claims can cost north of $4 million for the average health system, making it extremely costly for even the largest provider. 

Positive patient identification can prevent most denied claims as they are often caused by medical record mix-ups. Moreover, this also frees up FTEs (full-time equivalents) to do their jobs properly – improving efficiency and eliminating bottlenecks. 

Improves the quality of healthcare services

Patient identification errors have been rampant for almost two decades, leading to data quality issues. As a result, this information cannot be trusted – if the data is inaccurate, then everything moving forward will also be full of issues. 

Proper patient identification ensures that the right patient is connected to their accurate medical record at all times – this itself drastically improves the quality of services they receive. For instance, they won’t get redundant lab tests, incorrect medication, or the wrong treatment plans.

All in all, patient misidentification might seem trivial to many, but if accurate patient identification is ensured, then it brings several benefits for healthcare providers, patients, insurance companies, and everyone else involved.

However, did you know that our patient ID platform, RightPatient, can do even more than everything mentioned above?

RightPatient helps healthcare providers identify patients correctly

RightPatient is the leading biometric patient identification platform that has been helping several healthcare providers protect their patients. However, the factor that sets RightPatient apart from others is that it’s entirely touchless – patients only need to look at the camera during the verification process. The platform matches the saved photo with the live one and provides the accurate EHR once a match is identified.

The fact that RightPatient is contactless is why prominent healthcare providers have chosen it. The platform improves infection control and reduces HAIs (hospital-acquired infections) as there’s no physical contact required, making it ideal in a post-pandemic world.

Caregivers such as Community Medical Centers, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, and the University Health Care System have been using RightPatient and enjoying several benefits such as preventing medical identity theft, reducing duplicates and overlays, protecting patient records, and boosting their bottom lines. Be a responsible healthcare provider now and use RightPatient to see the difference it makes.

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Ensuring Data Integrity in Healthcare Facilities is Critical in a Post-Pandemic World

Starting on a positive note, it’s safe to say that we’ve seen the worst of the pandemic, at least in the U.S. Now that over 310 million Americans are vaccinated against the notorious COVID-19, almost everything is slowly but surely returning to the “old normal”. We’re saying “almost” because COVID-19 is still affecting a lot of people, businesses, institutions, and industries. The U.S. healthcare system, for instance, arguably faced the worst challenges it has ever had last year, leading to astronomical losses. While providers are opening their doors slowly, it’s estimated that they will face collective losses of over $120 billion this year. This makes it quite clear – hospitals need to implement strategies that can reduce losses, and ensuring patient data integrity in healthcare facilities might just be the answer, leading to improved quality and safety in healthcare – let’s dive deep.

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How COVID-19 changed our realities

Well, even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have noticed that the entire world changed last year. Social gatherings, sporting events, rallies, basically anything that included a large number of people were suspended and lockdowns were imposed to flatten the curve and reduce the infection rate. While different countries implemented lockdowns differently, all of them had one thing in common – the healthcare systems were shaken to their cores due to the unprecedented challenges.

COVID-19 was devastating for healthcare providers

In the U.S., hospitals had to suspend their regular operations, elective procedures, and in-person visits to take care of the COVID-19 patients. Healthcare teams and frontline workers did everything possible to fight COVID-19 as they risked their lives. As a result, hospitals had to cut off sources that normally would bring in revenue, and losses were around $323 billion last year. Surgeries usually are a huge source of revenue for healthcare organizations, and as they were postponed indefinitely, hospital finances plummeted.

Before going into how ensuring patient data integrity in healthcare facilities can reduce significant losses down the line, let’s take a look at some stats regarding surgeries. 

Some worrying stats regarding surgeries

According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, hospitals and health systems saw (on average) a 35% decline in surgical cases from March 2020 to July 2020. The same research also mentions that working on this backlog might require at least two years even if facilities can operate at 110% capacity!

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According to additional research, elective surgeries declined by around 193% after CMS recommended healthcare providers postpone non-emergency procedures back in 2020 – leading to unprecedented losses.

Moreover, only half of the healthcare providers want to implement strategies or solutions that can help them deal with this growing backlog. Moreover, around 80% of these same individuals believe that they can grow next year.

What they are failing to realize is that times have changed and so has the healthcare space. Telehealth is dominating and everyone is worried about hospital-acquired infections – healthcare has changed significantly. In this case, the hospitals and clinics that adapt themselves to the new changes will be the ones that will not only survive but will also thrive in the long run. While data integrity in healthcare has been sidelined during the pandemic, ensuring it becomes an important priority now can make all the difference.

But how is that relevant to surgeries? 

Patient data integrity in healthcare facilities can go a long way

Well, collecting and analyzing data properly can prevent losses, ensure smoother operations, and lead to boosted bottom lines. In fact, healthcare organizations that properly utilize data can make accurate forecasts, provide improved healthcare outcomes, and prevent medical errors. One of the key components of that is patient data – something which must be accurate at all costs. 

Ensuring patient data integrity in healthcare facilities can be challenging, but using the proper tools can drastically reduce adverse effects.

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For instance, patient data integrity failure can lead to duplicate medical records or overlays, patient safety incidents, detrimental healthcare outcomes, patient mix-ups, wrong procedures, and more. However, RightPatient is a solution that ensures patient data integrity right off the bat. 

RightPatient ensures patient data integrity in healthcare facilities

RightPatient is a robust touchless patient identification platform that solves one of the most crucial but overlooked issues of healthcare – patient misidentification. However, it brings several other benefits to healthcare providers and their patients.

By ensuring that the accurate medical record is used every time the registered patient comes in, RightPatient prevents mix-ups and duplicates, ensures patient data integrity, and ensures that data quality is maintained at all times.

RightPatient has been proudly protecting millions of patient records at several hospitals for years now with positive patient identification – are you protecting your patients properly?

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Preventing Medical Record Errors Improves Patient Safety

Healthcare providers in the U.S. never seem to catch a break – they’ve always faced a plethora of issues even before the pandemic. For a brief refresher, the U.S. healthcare system suffers from outrageous costs, the lack of price transparency, ancient laws that hamper healthcare outcomes, the lack of proper interoperability, medical record errors, preventable medical errors, patient safety incidents, and more.

While all of that seems like a bit too much, there are actually far more issues that regularly challenge health systems and hospitals and hold them back from providing positive patient outcomes. One such crucial but overlooked issue that hampers healthcare outcomes is medical record errors. Let’s explore how they are created, what are the consequences, and how proper patient identification can enhance the quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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Medical record errors jeopardize healthcare outcomes in several ways

Patient safety incidents, detrimental healthcare outcomes, denied claims, patient mix-ups, and other adverse effects can be traced back to errors with medical records – the most common ones are duplicates and overlays. In fact, whenever an EHR error occurs, it typically goes undetected until an unfortunate event occurs such as the ones listed above. However, if one goes even further back, patient identification errors are likely to be the main culprit – let’s see how that happens. 

Patient misidentification leads to most medical record errors

One of the most common causes that lead to medical record discrepancies is patient misidentification, and that’s because most healthcare providers are using obsolete means to identify their patients – more on that later. Let’s take a look at how duplicates and overlays are created within EHR systems.

Duplicate record creation 

It’s quite straightforward – let’s start from the beginning. A patient comes into the hospital for a checkup, and since most hospitals suffer from patient identification problems, the EHR user is left with a difficult choice if they can’t find the accurate medical record. This happens because:

  • The patient has a common name
  • There are multiple patient records with the same characteristics
  • Searching for the right medical record is virtually impossible

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Now, the choices the EHR user has are either diving deep and painstakingly finding the accurate medical record, assigning the medical record that seems to be the “closest match”, or, just to be safe, creating an entirely new medical record. However, the latter can be catastrophic for both the patient and the hospital. Saving a discussion about the consequences for a later part, let’s see how overlays are far more damaging.

Overlays are extremely dangerous

Duplicate records are created when a patient has multiple medical records. Overlays, however, are single medical records that contain information about multiple patients – clearly, these medical record errors can be very dangerous.

Let’s continue from the previous example – the EHR user selected a medical record that best matched the patient (X), but it actually belongs to a different patient (Y). When patient X has their medical checkup, their health information is recorded into patient Y’s medical record, rendering it corrupt, unusable, and dangerous. Next time, when either patient returns for medical treatment, they’ll be facing detrimental healthcare outcomes because the data in their medical record is unreliable.

Moreover, with the growing adoption of EHR systems, these issues are becoming far more common. In fact, according to AHIMA, smaller hospitals have around 5-10% of these duplicate medical records whereas larger health systems can have a whopping 20%. These errors can cause around $40 million in unnecessary costs in clean-ups, litigation costs, and others.

Unfortunately, the biggest issue with these duplicates and overlays is that, as previously mentioned, they remain undetected until an adverse event occurs. The best way to resolve medical record errors is by preventing them right from the start – accurate patient identification can help with that. 

RightPatient prevents duplicates and overlays

RightPatient has been helping responsible healthcare providers accurately identify patients at any touchpoint with its robust biometric patient identification platform. It can be seamlessly integrated with any EHR system and it becomes a part of the EHR workflow. 

Patients only need to look at the camera – the platform automatically locates the accurate medical record for the EHR user, making it a seamless, safe, and hygienic experience for everyone involved. It has been helping reputed caregivers like Grady health, TGMC, and Community Medical Centers prevent duplicate record creation, ensure patient safety, and boost the bottom line.