What's in a name? When it comes to newborns, there could be a medical error

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

November 4, 2015

Not every baby is born with a name. Sometimes, for religious reasons, parents will wait a predetermined amount of time before naming the newborn. In other cases, the pressure is simply too much, or the baby is born premature and the parents have not yet decided on a name.

In those instances, most hospitals assign temporary names identifying the child by his or her gender and the mother's last name (e.g., Babygirl Smith).

But according to a new study, that naming convention could contribute to wrong-patient errors as clinicians navigate through a slew of similarly constructed names. Fortunately, there may be a relatively simple solution.

The study, published in the August issue of Pediatrics, looked at the impact of transitioning from a non-distinct approach to newborn identifiers (e.g., Babygirl Smith) to a distinct naming convention using the mother's first name as a unique identifier (e.g., Janesgirl Smith). Researchers utilized a "retract and reorder" (RAR) tool that tracked when clinicians mistakenly placed an order on one patient, but retracted that order within 10 minutes and then placed another order on a different patient.

Continue reading What’s in a name? When it comes to newborns, there could be a medical error on the Patient Safety Monitor website. Subscribers have free access to this article in the November issue.