AHRQ Commentary: Pursuit of HIPAA Compliance Should Never Trump Patient Safety

August 7, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Using fully patient-identified records is appropriate for patient safety and can be achieved within the current regulatory framework by using secure electronic systems, state the authors of a commentary from the July-August 2015 edition of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) online case study review, WebM&M. In the spotlight case, a 64-year-old man with severe dementia was admitted to the hospital after a week of worsening confusion and agitation. A magnetic resonance imaging scan of the man's brain was ordered by an overnight resident, but because the hospital used paper-based sign-out documentation that only included patients' initials for privacy, the order for the brain scan was accidentally placed in the chart of another patient with the same initials. Fortunately, the error was caught the following morning, and any potential harm was avoided.

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