A new study suggests that using more specific names for newborns could reduce hospital mix-ups by about 1/3.
Hospitals generally identify newborns with generic names such as “Babygirl Jackson” or “Babyboy Jones” rather than the by the names parent give them. The reason for this generic identification method is because patient record and name tag have to be created immediately after birth. Changing records during a single hospital stay can cause confusion.
Because some parents haven’t definitely decided on a name when the baby is born, it tends to more efficient to use a standardized procedure for all.
A previous study with 339 newborn intensive care units across the county found that about 82% of hospitals used indistinct names. The other 18% of hospitals incorporated some version of the mother’s name such as “Wendysgirl Jackson” and “Brendasboy Jones”
This new study was able to demonstrate that using a generic naming convention increases the risk of wrong patient errors, such as placing orders on the wrong patient.
Some common errors include reading imaging tests or lab specimens for the wrong patient, giving blood products to the wrong patient or giving a mother’s expressed breast-milk to the wrong patient.
A top priority in health care is improving patient safety and an added benefit is if it can be achieved in a cost-effective manner. Human error is one of the main reasons mistakes occur in a hospital setting.
A hospital that adopted the more specific “Catherinesgirl Jones” versions saw a 36% decrease in errors. Researchers were able to calculate that the new naming reduced errors by a third.
Some researchers are still weary of these findings and believe that firm conclusions cannot be made.
However, regardless of what the explanation is, researchers hope that this study will prompt more hospitals to change their procedures.