The last thing anyone wants to hear is that they've been operated on or given the wrong medication because they were confused with another patient. Unfortunately, that does happen fairly often in the medical community.
How do these mistakes happen? It can be something as easy as a nurse coming into your room to give you medications that were actually supposed to go to a roommate. If you were allergic to the medications or they were for a condition you don't have, then you could suffer injuries because of that mistake.
Other errors may happen because of incorrect order entries. When you need a medication and are hospitalized, the medication order is sent to the hospital pharmacy. If it's put in as the wrong medication, you could be treated with the wrong medication when that error isn't discovered.
Administration errors are also a concern. Have you ever been in a waiting room with someone else who has the same or a similar name? It's possible for patients to mistakenly receive treatments that were designed for someone else with the same or similar name, particularly if they share the last name and don't check against the doctor's orders before receiving treatment.
Mixing up medication administration records can also be a problem. For instance, if you and another patient have the same first name and similar ID numbers while in the hospital, it could be easy for a nurse to pick up the wrong medication or chart when he or she intended to get the correct one for you. This simple error could lead to receiving the wrong medications.
Source: Institute for Safe Medication Practices, "Oops, sorry, wrong patient!," accessed May 20, 2016