More specific labels stating the names of newborns has the potential to reduce errors in hospital care by approximately 36 percent.
The study was led by Doctor Jason Adelman who is also a public safety officer in the Montefiore Health System of New York City.
Newborns are usually identified with generic labels like ‘Babygirl Jackson’ or ‘Brendasboy Jones’ states the study. Names giving at birth are never used in the labeling system as the record of the patient is created immediately following birth.
Doctor Adelman conducted a study including 339 newborn intensive care units (NICUs) across the U.S. 82 percent of the 339 NICUs use the same leveled labeling system referring to newborns by indistinct names. 18 percent of the NICUs also included the mother’s name.
Doctor Adelman stated:
“We were able to demonstrate what everyone sort of know but couldn’t prove – that using a generic naming convention increases the risk of wrong-patient errors, such as placing orders on the wrong patient”.
These errors refer to imaging tests as well as lab specimens, or blood products assigned to the wrong patient. Cases of breast milk assigned to a wrong newborn were also recorded. Thus, the study aims at improving patient safety in the hospital setting and ensuring that achieving the newborn’s safety can be done in a cost-efficient manner.
According to the study, 11 percent of the errors described above stem from the misidentification of newborns due to the generic labeling system. In the NICUs of Montefiore Medical Center located in Bronx, New York the generic labeling system was switched for one that includes more specific details such as the mother’s name or numbers added to the names in case of twins, triplets, etc.
After the switch the NICUs were followed for errors for an added year. The results showed that the errors usually associated with the generic labeling system dropped by 36 percent.
The efficiency of a more specific newborn labeling system in NICUs across the country was also explained by pediatrician Clay Jones from the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Massachusetts:
“Imagine giving a medication meant for one patient to another patient with a life-threatening allergy to it”.
The new study that will be published in August aims to increase awareness and address specifically such issues.
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