“Oh Baby!” Evidence-based Naming Prevents Events

EBP Preventive Action:  Evidence-based, distinct infant naming can avoid sentinel events related to misidentification of newborns (TJC, 2015).

Problem:  Misidentification errors of NICU babies are common newborn3(Gray et al., 2006).   About 12% of the 4 million born in U.S. hospitals were admitted to NICU’s.  At birth every infant requires quick application of an armband, and when parents have not yet decided on a name the assigned name is often quite nondistinct (e.g., BabySmith).


Evidence:
A pretest/posttest of a new, more infant-specific naming system was “conducted in order to examine the effect of a distinct naming convention that incorporates the mother’s first name into the newborn’s first name (e.g., Wendysgirl) on the incidence of wrong-patient errors. We used the Retract-and-Reorder (RAR) tool, an established, automated tool for detecting the outcome of wrong-patient electronic orders. The RAR tool identifies orders placed on a patient that are retracted within 10 minutes and then placed by the same clinician on a different patient within the next 10 minutes” (Adelman et al., 2013). newborn2Their results? RAR events were reduced by 36.3%.   Their recommendations? Switch to a distinct naming system.

Using something like Judysgirl Smith is infant specific. “In the case of multiple births, the hospital adds a number in front of the mother’s first name (ex: 1Judysgirl and 2Judysgirl)” (TJC).

TJC recommends:

  • “Stop using Babyboy or Babygirl as part of the temporary name.
  • Change to a more distinct naming convention.
  • Train staff on the distinct naming convention.
  • Follow the recommendation in National Patient Safety Goal 01.01.01 and implement use of two patient identifiers at all times.
  • As soon as parents decide on their baby’s name, enter that name into the medical record instead of the temporary name.”

Commentary: While this is just one study, RNs should evaluate whether it is riskier to continue any current practice of non-distinct naming or to switch practices to distinct naming. No risks were identified to the distinct naming system & it likely requires only the resource investment of educating staff.  Adelman et al.’s (2013) study is current, moderately strong, quasi-experimental evidence that showed a significant decrease in errors that could have sentinel event outcomes. Any who make the switch should monitor outcomes. All who don’t make the switch should, too!

Critical Thinking: Examine the risks, resources, & readiness of staff in your facility to make the switch to a distinct NICU infant naming system?  question Should the naming system be extended to all infants?

Want more information?  See

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2 thoughts on ““Oh Baby!” Evidence-based Naming Prevents Events”

  1. In support of distinct naming system, looks like it will be easy to adopt and nurses should be willing to adopt it as EBP to avoid misidentification.
    So happy I can access the EBP blog now.

    Like

    1. I am surprised that such a simple change could reduce the errors so greatly. Policy changes and education were the only additional work that was needed.

      Laurie Walter

      Like

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