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Patient identification mistakes: A huge problem in the U.S.

Pennsylvania, just like the rest of the United States, is still experiencing a significant amount of surgical errors due to incorrect patient identification. Some of the main causes of patient ID issues include outdated technological systems and incorrect sharing of medical records. Such patient errors can still be avoided if a surgeon or the operating room staff follow proper protocol and procedure when checking the patient prior to beginning the operation.

The problem is much worse than most medical professionals believe. Surgical errors can be compounded by patient ID mix-ups. Moreover, if the initial patient does not receive proper treatment, another patient is likely receiving that treatment instead. Such mistakes can lead to organ damage and a worsened condition. Additionally, reports say that patients can be misidentified at any time from when they are first registered to when they are being transported.

More than 7,600 reports were gathered to help bring light to the issue. Any type of medical professional can make the mistake of misidentifying the patient, especially in a busy hospital or stressful situation. One of the best ways to avoid patient identification issues in the future is by implementing a barcode wristband system and requiring the patient to be scanned every time a health professional comes in contact with them. Other recommendations include attaching photos of the patient to the medical paperwork and standardizing how patient names appear in electronic medical records.

Patients who have suffered surgical errors at the hands of negligent operating room staff may be entitled to financial compensation from the hospital. A competent lawyer may be able to assist with filing the necessary paperwork with relevant insurance companies and the court on their behalf.

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