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Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety Issues Recommendations for the Safe Use of Health IT for Patient Identification
Mistaken identifications can lead to patients receiving wrong care, improper care, or not receiving care at all

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Feb. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Improving the accuracy of patient identification remains a challenge across all healthcare settings. Misidentifications occur during every aspect of care from registration to discharge and beyond, based on evidence analyzed by ECRI Institute PSO in its recently completed Deep Dive analysis of over 7,600 safety events related to patient identification. These errors impact patient care, treatment, and billing. Moreover, once a mistaken identity gets embedded into a record, it may be extremely difficult to eradicate.

Recognizing the need for best practices to reduce patient misidentification, the Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multi-stakeholder collaborative convened and operated by ECRI Institute, announces their second set of Safe Practice Recommendations. 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, MD, MPH, 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," explains Singh. "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."

Following extensive review and discussion of the information, 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

"I hope the toolkit will stimulate discussions about safe practices for the use of technology in patient identification, help facilitate implementation of the safe practices, and build a foundation for additional work in this area," says ECRI Institute's Lorraine Possanza, DPM, JD, MBE, program director.

The Partnership, established in 2014, includes healthcare providers, health information technology (IT) 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.

The Partnership is sponsored in part through grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation (JKTG) for Health and Policy.

To learn more about the Partnership, visit, or contact us by telephone at (610) 825-6000; by e-mail at; or by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462.

Social Sharing

  • Health IT Safety Collaborative releases new safe practices for Patient Identification  
  • #HITPartnership, w/ @ECRI_Institute, Safe Practice recommendations released at #HIMSS17

About ECRI Institute
ECRI Institute (, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for nearly 50 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO is listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook ( and on Twitter (



For further information: Laurie Menyo, Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications, (610) 825-6000, ext. 5310,