GRASSROOTS ALERT

In June, the US House of Representatives adopted an amendment striking language in the House FY20 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill that prohibits the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from using federal funds to promulgate or adopt a unique patient identifier. Striking this language will give HHS the ability to evaluate a range of patient identification solutions that protect patient privacy and are cost-effective, scalable, and secure.

For nearly two decades, innovation and industry progress has been stifled due to broad interpretation of this language included in Labor-HHS bills since FY1999. More than that, without the ability of clinicians to correctly connect a patient with their medical record, lives have been lost and medical errors have needlessly occurred. These are situations that could have been entirely avoidable had patients been able to have been accurately identified and matched with their records. This problem is so dire that one of the nation’s leading patient safety organizations, the ECRI Institute, named patient identification among the top ten threats to patient safety.

The absence of a consistent approach to accurately identifying patients has also resulted in significant costs to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities, and other providers, as well as hindered efforts to facilitate health information exchange. According to a 2016 study of healthcare executives, misidentification costs the average healthcare facility $17.4 million per year in denied claims and potential lost revenue. More importantly, there are patient safety implications when data is matched to the wrong patient and when essential data is lacking from a patient’s record due to identity issues. The 2016 National Patient Misidentification Report cites that 86 percent of respondents said they have witnessed or know of a medical error that was the result of patient misidentification.
 
Contact Congress today and urge them to strike this archaic ban from the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2020.