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Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety Focuses on Patient Identification

February 20, 2017
by David Raths
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Partnership presents eight safe practice recommendations

The Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multi-stakeholder collaborative convened and operated by the nonprofit ECRI Institute, has rolled out its second set of Safe Practice Recommendations with a focus on reducing patient misidentification. The Partnership's evidence-based recommendations for the use of health IT in patient identification are designed to improve health IT safety and build upon other work in patient identification.

In the just-released and publicly available toolkit, Health IT Safe Practices: Toolkit for the Safe Use of Health IT for Patient Identification, the Partnership presents eight safe practice recommendations, along with actionable resources to facilitate the implementation of these recommended safe practices.

The patient identification workgroup, chaired by Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H., from the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Baylor College of Medicine, was comprised of nearly 40 leaders from various participating collaborating organizations and provider facilities.

"Patient identification is a complex topic and our recommendations were derived using a three-pronged approach—that of catching, matching, and display," explained Singh, in a prepared statement. "Any focus for improving patient identification methods must include (1) accurate information gathering, or catching; (2) facilitation of accurate information matching; and (3) display of information to enhance patient identification."

The group identified the following Safe Practice Recommendations. The resulting mnemonic encourages stakeholders to IDENTIFY:

  • INCLUDE: Electronic fields containing patient identification data should consistently use standard identifier conventions
  • DETECT: Use a confirmation process to help match the patient and the documentation
  • EVALUATE: Use standard attributes and attribute formats in all transactions to improve matching
  • NORMALIZE: Use a standard display of patient attributes across the various systems
  • TAILOR: Include distinguishing information enhancing identification on screens printouts, and those areas that require interventions
  • INNOVATE: Integrate new technologies to facilitate and enhance identification
  • FOLLOW-UP: Implement monitoring systems to readily detect identification errors
  • YIELD: Include high-specificity active alerts and notifications to facilitate proper identification

The partnership, established in 2014includes healthcare providers, health information technology developers, academic researchers, patient safety organizations, liability insurers, professional societies, and patient advocates. The Partnership provides a non-punitive learning environment that mitigates risk and facilitates improvement.

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