Joint Commission issues recommendations to solve patient ID issues

New guidance from the Joint Commission focuses on ways to consider when relying on human or technology factors to positively identify patients.

Issues related to misidentification affect patient safety—for example, entering data into the wrong patient record, comingling patient information, assigning a test to the wrong person and misdiagnosis, among other perils.

“Technology alone cannot ensure accurate information,” says Gerald Castro, project director of patient safety initiatives at the Joint Commission. “We must consider not only the technology but also the people involved and their processes.”

Castro also calls for healthcare professionals to receive adequate training and to conduct reliable procedures, contending that accurate patient identification is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders. Further, the guidance reminds providers and others that the first National Safety Goal is to improve the accuracy of patient identification.

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The Joint Commission guidance lists nine recommended safety actions covering issues such as limiting distractions, using two identifiers to match the patient, standardizing identification, capturing of patient information no matter where registration occurs, and ordering patient information the same way, such as last name, first name and middle initial.

“If your organization uses automatic identification and data capture technologies—bar coding, biometric scanners, or radio-frequency identification—develop procedures to use these technologies to facilitate and enhance accurate patient identification,” the Commission counsels. “Train staff on these procedures.”

The full guidance is available here.

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