An interesting study in Pediatrics has found that avoiding temporary NICU names can result in fewer errors. Here is the NY Times summary:
More than 80 percent of neonatal intensive-care units, or NICUs, use temporary first names for patients — Babygirl Jackson or Babyboy Goldsmith, for example — a convention that may lead to errors in prescribing medicines. A new study has found that a simple change in this procedure can significantly reduce such errors.
The NICUs at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx instituted a new system two years ago. They started naming babies using the mother’s first name — Jennifersgirl Jackson and Karensboy Goldsmith. Researchers compared the number of wrong-patient electronic orders of medicines in the year before the change with the number in the year after. The study, in Pediatrics, included 158,000 orders before the change and 142,000 after.
Over all, the new system reduced errors by 36.3 percent.
My Take: Both with electronic records and with ‘paper’ records, the lack of a specific name leads to errors. With electronic records, another frustration is when multiple records for the same patient have not been merged into a single entity, allowing key information to be unavailable.