Patient misidentification in nursing care.

GOAL: The goal of the study was to assess the opinions of nurses regarding patient safety associated with patient misidentification. The investigation was focused on actual patient misidentification as well as loss of patient materials (e.g., blood samples, X-rays, etc.). These are problems often associated with patient identification methods and/or confusing patients with the same surname assigned to the same ward. The risks of misidentification incidents pose a considerable threat to patient health especially when the confusion extends to the operating room. Our objective was to identify the potential causes of patient misidentification and offers solutions to correct the issue.

METHODS: A survey as part of a sociological investigation was carried out through the use of questionnaires. The selected sample included, in accordance with the needs of the project and methodology of the Institute for Health Care Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic, registered nurses working shifts on inpatient wards. The study took place across the Czech Republic between Sept. 15 and 30, 2013. The sample consisted of 772 registered nurses.

RESULTS: The potential for patient misidentification (PM) was described as negligible by 73.8% of respondents. Only 9.1% of nurses admitted problems associated with patient misidentification. Respondents reported that the greatest potential for patient misidentification was associated with patients having the same surname staying on the same ward. An absolute majority of nurses responded that patient identification wristbands were the most frequently used method to prevent PM. Over 90% (90.6%) of nurses reported that patient ID wristbands were used for all patients. Almost 80% (77.4%) reported the use of positive verbal identification in addition to ID wrist bands. Respondents reported (76.2%) that the most frequently used method to avoid PM in the operating room involved a review of patient documentation. Almost the same number of repondents (74.1%) reported the use of verbal confirmation as a method to avoid PM. Another mechanism included verification of the surgical procedure. ID wristbands and completion of an 'identification protocol' rank among other options mentioned most frequently by respondents.

CONCLUSION: The study shows that registered nurses regard patient misidentification as a very rare and unlikely event. Nonetheless, statistics suggest otherwise and education, changes in protocols, and new technologies are needed to improve the precision of patient identification.

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