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Medical Error Mix-Ups Still Prevalent in Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities, Study Finds


The best medical treatment in the world won’t do any good, and could potentially do serious damage, if it is applied to the wrong patient. This is why patient mix-ups are so dangerous. With more and more medical facilities, hospitals, and healthcare clinics utilizing electronic healthcare records (EHR), the number of incidents involving mistaken patient identity should conceivably go down. However, such an assumption would be incorrect.

The ECRI Institute, a nonprofit Patient Safety Organization (ECRI), recently released a report on their findings of a multiyear study that looked specifically at patient mix-ups. It used more than 7,600 patient “safety events” as part of its research, gathered from more than 180 healthcare organizations around the country between January 2013 and July 2015. It concluded that close to 25% of those safety events were marked down as a harmful event.

Preventing Patient Mix-Ups

In one instance, the ECRI discovered that a patient who had gone into cardiac arrest was not revived because the patient file doctors were using had a “do not revive” order; it was not the patient’s file. Another incident involved a newborn being given the breastmilk of a stranger, not the child’s mother; it resulted in the baby contracting hepatitis. Furthermore, the ECRI study grabbed what could surmount to just a handful of a great number of patient mix-up cases; the actual number and frequency of it occurring could be much, much higher.

To make matters worse, patient mix-ups should really never happen. They all stem from human error, either in grabbing the wrong chart or keying in the wrong information when using an EHR. If standards were raised at hospitals and facilities, and carefulness was a maintained priority, mix-ups should be completely avoidable, especially since most EHR systems allow doctors to upload and update images of patients in their records.

With all of this said and reviewed, if you or a loved one have been harmed due to a patient mix-up, you may have the right to seek compensation for your damages. Contact Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC to connect with a Louisville medical malpractice attorney that people in Kentucky have come to rely on for their complex personal injury cases. Be sure to ask about getting a free consultation and our contingency fee agreements.

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