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An intervention to decrease patient identification band errors in a children's hospital
  1. P D Hain,
  2. B Joers,
  3. M Rush,
  4. J Slayton,
  5. P Throop,
  6. S Hoagg,
  7. L Allen,
  8. J Grantham,
  9. J K Deshpande
  1. Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul D Hain, Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Suite 2516, 2200 Children's Way, Nashville, TN 37232-9750, USA; paul.hain{at}


Context Patient misidentification continues to be a quality and safety issue. There is a paucity of US data describing interventions to reduce identification band error rates.

Setting Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Key measures Percentage of patients with defective identification bands.

Strategies for change Web-based surveys were sent, asking hospital personnel to anonymously identify perceived barriers to reaching zero defects with identification bands. Corrective action plans were created and implemented with ideas from leadership, front-line staff and the online survey. Data from unannounced audits of patient identification bands were plotted on statistical process control charts and shared monthly with staff. All hospital personnel were expected to “stop the line” if there were any patient identification questions.

Effects of change The first audit showed a defect rate of 20.4%. The original mean defect rate was 6.5%. After interventions and education, the new mean defect rate was 2.6%.

Lessons learnt (a) The initial rate of patient identification band errors in the hospital was higher than expected. (b) The action resulting in most significant improvement was staff awareness of the problem, with clear expectations to immediately stop the line if a patient identification error was present. (c) Staff surveys are an excellent source of suggestions for combating patient identification issues. (d) Continued audit and data collection is necessary for sustainable staff focus and continued improvement. (e) Statistical process control charts are both an effective method to track results and an easily understood tool for sharing data with staff.

  • Patient identification systems
  • safety
  • quality assurance
  • statistical process control
  • patient safety
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • continuous quality improvement
  • control charts

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Approved by the Vanderbilt University Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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