Health and Fitness

Use of More Distinct, Temporary Names For Newborns Decreases Wrong Patient Errors

Elk Grove Village, IL—(ENEWSPF)—July 13, 2015. When babies are born, hospitals often assign generic, temporary first names to infants under their care such as Babyboy or Babygirl. These temporary names become especially problematic when newborns are admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), where a large number of patients may have similar identifiers. Previous studies have shown that several of the most serious medical errors reported by NICUs were due to patient misidentification.

A new study, “Use of Temporary Names for Newborns and Associated Risks,” appearing in the August 2015 issue of Pediatrics (published online July 13), examined the impact of a more unique way to assign temporary names to newborns. This method incorporates a mother’s first name into the newborn’s first name (e.g., Wendysgirl) to make the name more distinct and therefore decrease the number of wrong-patient errors. For the study, researchers examined patient orders that were placed on one patient, retracted within 10 minutes, and then ordered for another patient within the next 10 minutes. After adopting the distinct naming convention, there was a 36.3% reduction in the number of such events.

The authors concluded that the use of non-distinct, temporary first names can pose several issues, but by adopting a more distinct and personalized naming convention, the number of wrong-patient errors will decrease significantly.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.