Evaluating serial strategies for preventing wrong-patient orders in the NICU.
Wrong-patient errors are a well-established risk in the health care setting. Research has shown that providers, often multitasking, may enter notes or medication orders for the wrong patient. A prior study touted point-of-care photographs as a helpful intervention for identifying and preventing wrong-patient errors in a cardiothoracic intensive care unit. However, less is known about wrong-patient errors in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) population and ways to prevent them. Researchers analyzed more than 850,000 NICU orders and more than 3.5 million non-NICU orders in pediatric patients over a 7-year period. At baseline, they found that wrong-patient orders occurred more frequently in the NICU population with an odds ratio of 1.56. Interventions included requiring reentry of patient identifiers prior to order entry as well as a new naming system for newborns. Implementation of both led to a 61.1% reduction in wrong-patient errors in the NICU population from baseline. A previous WebM&M commentary highlights a case of wrong-patient identification.