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Neonatal ICU Sees Errors Drop Thanks to Change of Patient IDS

It's not something anyone likes to picture, but sometimes the birth of a child doesn't go as planned, and as a result, the baby needs to be rushed to neonatal ICU. In these cases, the parents may not have had time to pass along the name of their baby to the medical professionals -- or maybe they didn't even have a baby name picked out yet.

With that in mind, how are those medical professionals supposed to differentiate their neonatal patients? Most neonatal intensive care units follow a similar naming procedure (according to a report, roughly 80 percent of NICUs do this): they use a generic naming process that labels the babies as "Babygirl" or "Babyboy" with a band that is attached to their wrist. A number corresponds with these names to help the medical professionals differentiate their patients.

But this naming procedure brings up a new problem: with such bland names that aren't very different from another (other than a number), wouldn't it be easy for the staffers on hand to still get confused? As it turns out, yes, it is that easy. So a NICU tried an experiment to fix the problem.

They changed their naming protocol to a reflect a more unique and dynamic structure. For example, instead of "Babygirl" and "Baby boy," they used names such as "Wendy's girl" and "Babygirl Jackson" to help the medical professionals identify the appropriate babies. The neonatal ICU found that with this naming protocol, there was a 36 percent decline in errors relating incorrect electronic patient orders.

Source: Vox, "How one hospital protected newborn babies from medical errors -- just by changing their wristbands," Sarah Kliff, July 25, 2015

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