October 10, 2019

A woman in South Korea who was six weeks pregnant went to a clinic to have a nutritional injection. Instead, she received an unwanted abortion because the medical staff at the clinic failed to check her identity and there was a mixup in the medicals records between her and a woman who had gone to the clinic to have an abortion.

The August 7, 2019 incident occurred when a nurse at the clinic allegedly failed to confirm the patient’s identity before injecting her with anesthesia. Then, a physician failed to confirm the patient’s identity before performing the abortion procedure.

Abortion in South Korea remains illegal except under specified cicumstances (i.e., pregnancy due to rape or incest, the life of the mother is threatened by the fetus, or herediatry risks posed by the parents) although South Korea took steps in April 2019 to legalize abortion . South Korea’s constitutional court has ruled that South Korean lawmakers are required to revise existing abortion laws by December 31, 2020.

Despite South Korea’s restrictive abortion law, it is estimated that more than 50,000 abortions are performed in South Korea annually. Illegal abortions in South Korea are punishable by imprisonment of up to one year under current law.


Patient Identification Issues

The Joint Commission has stated: “Common problems associated with health IT and patient identification include:

* Entering information into the wrong patient record (having multiple patient records open, side by side, or overlaying patient records).
* Untangling (i.e., separating) co-mingled patient information.
* Mistakenly creating duplicate charts.
* Assigning a test to the wrong patient.

These errors can lead to a calamity or errors, including incorrectly routed information, wrong results, delayed or inappropriate care, or misdiagnosis.

Accurate patient identification has three components:

1. Accurate information gathering (also called “catching” or “capturing”).
2. Accurate information matching.
3. Display of that information to enhance gathering and matching.

Each of these steps are accomplished using both human processes and technology. Accordingly, identification errors can be caused by both human and technology factors, including distractions, time constraints, fatigue, display issues, refresh times, down times, communication issues, use of aliases, non-distinct temporary names for newborns (e.g., Baby Boy or Baby Girl), and staff workarounds.


The SAFER Guides are designed to help healthcare organizations conduct self-assessments to optimize the safety and safe use of electronic health records (EHRs). SAFER stands for Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience.

“The Patient Identification SAFER Guide identifies recommended safety practices associated with the reliable identification of patients in the EHR. Accurate patient identification ensures that the information presented by and entered into the EHR is associated with the correct person. Processes related to patient identification are complex and require careful planning and attention to avoid errors. In the EHR-enabled healthcare environment, providers rely on technology to help support and manage these complex identification processes. Technology configurations alone cannot ensure accurate patient identification. Staff also must be supported with adequate training and reliable procedures.”


If you or a family member had unnecessary surgery, surgery at the wrong site, surgery on the wrong side, surgery on the wrong body part, or suffered an unexpected medical outcome following surgery that may be the result of medical negligence, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state to learn about your rights and responsibilities and whether you may file a claim for compensation for the injuries and harms caused by the surgical malpractice.

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