Naming Your Baby To Avoid Hospital Errors

Baby Name Tag

Did you choose your baby’s name before you made it to the hospital? Some parents know far in advance what they will call their child, but others don’t make a decision until after the baby has arrived. There is new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics that shows not naming your baby right away can result in more medical errors in the hospital…especially in the NICU, or neonatal intensive care unit.

A newborn baby needs a wristband in the hospital right away, and if there is no name attached to the child, they were previously assigning temporary names such as “Babygirl” or “Babyboy.” Many researchers believe that using these indistinct names has been contributing to mistakes such as giving the wrong treatment to a patient.

Their solution? Give the baby a more distinct temporary name. Jason Adelman, author of this study and internist and patient safety officer at Montefiore Health System in New York, and his colleagues have come up with a new system where they name the baby using the mother’s first name. (For example, Wendysgirl, for a baby girl.)

For this study, they used a RAR (Retract-and-Reorder) tool which detects the outcome of wrong-patient electronic orders. It identifies orders placed on a patient that have been retracted within 10 minutes and then placed by the same clinician on another patient within the next 10 minutes. When using this new naming method, they noticed a 36% decline in potential errors made. Now, the problem with this tool is that it’s not actually measuring errors, but near-errors. However, it could be a strong enough reason for hospitals to consider switching their naming methods. Researchers also believe the new naming system will cut down on other hospital mistakes caused by other factors such as human distraction or poor lighting.

My first thought after hearing this report is that I am happy I have a name for my baby on the way. However, after thinking about it a bit more, do I believe that just because I name my baby in advance that they will actually use that name in the hospital? Not necessarily. Some mother’s and baby’s have different last names, which could be confusing and my thinking is that hospitals would use a uniform system in which everyone was named in the same manner. When my last child was born, I don’t think they wrote his first name anywhere until we wrote it on the paperwork during discharge. However, we did have matching wristbands/ankle-bands with the same number to link us.


That being said, I do feel hopeful that hospitals and medical professionals are looking to discover new ways to cut down on mistakes being made on a regular basis, especially when it comes to babies in the NICU.

How do you feel about this new naming system? Do you think it will make a difference in the errors made? Will you now come to the hospital with a name for baby?