Inadequate patient identification is a major cause of problems and complications associated with errors in care.
The most common way of identifying patients in healthcare facilities is by room or bed number, diagnosis, physical or psychological characteristics or by the fact that they respond to a certain name.
Identification problems are frequently associated with complications caused by errors in the administration of medicines, surgical interventions, diagnostic tests, blood transfusions and blood product, etc.
According to the American Hospital Association, verbal identification should not be done because patients may be sedated, inattentive, indifferent, confused or simply unable to respond. Patients may also have language barriers, hearing problems or be too young, all of these aspects can increase the likelihood of errors and undermine the safety of patient care.
Healthcare workers are often overconfident when it comes to identifying patients. When they know a patient, it is assumed that others know the patient as well.