Mark R. Chassin, MD, MPP, MPH; Elise C. Becher, MD, MA*
Chassin MR, Becher EC. The Wrong Patient. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136:826-833. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-136-11-200206040-00012
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(11):826-833.
Among all types of medical errors, cases in which the wrong patient undergoes an invasive procedure are sufficiently distressing to warrant special attention. Nevertheless, institutions underreport such procedures, and the medical literature contains no discussions about them. This article examines the case of a patient who was mistakenly taken for another patient's invasive electrophysiology procedure. After reviewing the case and the results of the institution's â€œroot-cause analysis,â€ the discussants discovered at least 17 distinct errors, no single one of which could have caused this adverse event by itself. The discussants illustrate how these specific â€œactiveâ€ errors interacted with a few underlying â€œlatent conditionsâ€ (system weaknesses) to cause harm. The most remediable of these were absent or misused protocols for patient identification and informed consent, systematically faulty exchange of information among caregivers, and poorly functioning teams.
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