One kind of medical malpractice that can happen is called a never event. There are various never events, but among them is the risk of mixing up patients.
Patients can get mixed up for a few reasons. Most commonly, they’re mixed up because of:
- Failing to verify their wristbands before a treatment
- Not providing wristbands to the patients
- Going into the wrong room and not reverifying the patient’s name or date of birth
- Having two patients with similar names or appearances
Other common causes of mix-ups include mislabeling patients with the incorrect charts, not using at least two patient identifiers and having multiple patients’ treatments going on simultaneously.
Patients should never have to worry about getting mixed up with others. Mix-ups can cause serious injuries or deaths in some cases, so medical professionals must do all they can to avoid them.
Can electronic health records help?
Electronic health records (EHR) may help avoid wrong-patient issues because they usually only allow a single patient’s records to be open at a time. However, some doctors have claimed that limiting how many patient files can be available at once hurts their ability to work on multiple patients simultaneously.
While the goal of using EHRs was to determine if wrong-patient errors could be reduced or eliminated, that may not be the result. It was found by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians that wrong-patient errors happened regardless if a single patient or multiple patient files were open at the same time.
What can be done to help if EHRs aren’t fixing the issue?
The greatest thing physicians and other medical providers can do to help avoid wrong-patient errors is to verify that they’re working with the right patient and that all documentation matches up. Using at least two verifications, such as checking the patient’s wristband and also asking them to identify themselves, can help minimize the risk of taking the wrong patient to treatment or filing the wrong documents in a patient’s chart.
Patients shouldn’t ever get mixed up, but they do. If you get mixed up and are harmed as a result, it’s important to know that you could have a right to a malpractice claim.