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July 8, 1983

Patient Identification and Laboratory Requests

Author Affiliations

University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

JAMA. 1983;250(2):166-167. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340020018019

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To the Editor.—  The report on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Conference (1983;249:570) omitted an incident that may interest physicians generally. In this conference, my paper entitled "Errors in Laboratory Data Processing" presented data from three hospitals showing that in more than 20% of laboratory requests, essential patient identification was either missing or incorrect. A questioner challenged my statistics and asserted that in his experience as a Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation inspector, no more than 3% were defective as to patient identification.The statistics I have collected are voluminous, detailed, and specific as to individual requests. The proportion of defective requests has not changed in the last ten years. If the hospitals I have studied are bad examples, it is still too much to accept even 3% of requests as defective, especially when a cost-effective system is available to verify and complete every request without returning