Minimization of Human Error within the Scope of Health Information Management

There can be no doubt that the HIM field has become increasingly complex as it has evolved.  Though this evolution has brought about innumerable benefits, it has also brought about a degree of risk that could be considered directly proportional to the former.  This risk is associated primarily with human error and the potentially adverse effects such error may cause.

It is clear that simple mistakes during patient registration can have far-reaching consequences.  Such mistakes can take the form of duplicate records or even erroneous records due to the confused entering of information into other individuals’ files.

The problem begins at registration, which is typically burdened by time constraints.  Most registrars are instructed to enter a patient into the system within two minutes upon arrival so that treatment may be promptly administered.  Erroneous or duplicate file information can be either due to pure accident or, unfortunately, negligence during the registration process.

What is particularly problematic about faulty patient information is that it eventually filters through the larger and more circuitous medical information framework which could potentially cause incidences such as faulty billing, unnecessary treatment (which may prove quite dangerous depending on the circumstance), or wasted time and money in the pursuit of correcting inaccurate file information.

The operational gap between patient registration and HIM departments seems to have led to the exasperation of these problems.  This reality has been recognized by medical professionals and subsequently has lead to the creation of less distance between the two entities, effecting remarkable results.

It has widely become protocol for HIM departments to work more closely with registration staff, providing individuals with feedback and education regarding the consequences of faulty medical recording.  Not only this, but many institutions have set higher standards for the minimization of mistakes during the entrance process, some implementing layoff at three cumulative faulty registrations per year.  Alterations in communication between these departments has lead to vast improvements, the likes of a nearly 60% decrease in duplication rates within some institutions.

Essentially, what was once a considerable problem is now far less of one thanks to the ingenuity of HIM professionals.  The result is less correction, less patient injury, less time, and less money.

Questions: Do you think registration errors are a problem in the facility you work at? Do you have any ideas as to how this process can be improved?

About the Author:  Patricia Heise is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the blog.

Dimick, Chris. “Exposing Double Identity at Patient Registration.” Journal of AHIMA 80, no.11 (November 2009): web extra.


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