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What adverse impacts do duplicate medical records have?

Salman Rashid 18-Nov-2020

What are duplicate medical records?

Duplicate medical records are created when a patient has multiple patient records at a given healthcare provider’s EHR system. This happens for a variety of reasons – poor communication between the hospital staff and the patient during patient admission or checkup, failure to find the existing patient record within the database, and so on.

Effects of duplicate medical records

Duplicate records decentralize the healthcare process that providers initially intended to provide to patients. For instance, due to duplicate records, a patient’s complete medical history could be impossible to find. In essence, different diagnoses are stored in various records, which leads to serious medical errors like mistreatment, repetitive lab tests, wrong medication, unintentional injuries, and in extreme cases, deaths.

Statistics to back it up

All that is backed up by a study conducted by Black Book Research, where it’s stated that the impact of duplicate records includes patient identification errors, repeated care, redundant medical tests, and denied claims – all of which lead to increased costs. Overall, these problems cost the healthcare system billions of dollars each year. On average, duplicate records occupy almost 20% of the EHR system of any given healthcare provider. 

Another problem of medical records similar to duplicates is overlays. The latter is caused when records of patients are merged into a single one – generating inconsistent information such as a fragmented medical history. Both duplicate medical records and record overlays have serious consequences – not only for a hospital where financials and revenue cycles are impacted, but patient safety is also jeopardized.

How to avoid duplicate medical records

However, duplicate medical records and their effects can be avoided by ensuring accurate patient identification. By ensuring that the accurate patient is identified every time across the care continuum, duplicate medical records can be avoided - enhancing patient safety, ensuring proper patient care, and boosting healthcare outcomes.


1. Duplicate Medical Records and Patient Misidentification Frequently Affects Hospitals

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