Unique naming system in EMRs prevents errors in hospital NICU

The use of a unique naming system in the electronic medical records of patients at a Bronx hospital has helped to prevent miscommunication in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The new system at Montefiore Medical Center, according to an article at MedPage Today, reduced near miss wrong-patient orders in the EMR through better identification for babies who had yet to be given a first name.  

"Most hospitals in the country have a temporary name they use like BabyBoy or BabyGirl. That really increases the chances of confusing patient [charts]," Jason Adelman, the hospital's patient safety officer, told MedPage.

Confusion over patient identity has been plaguing NICUs for years, Adelman said. To combat the problem, the hospital instituted a formula to create a first name for unnamed babies using a number, the mother's first name, the letter "s" and the baby's gender.

Through using the new system, the number of errors found among 98,513 patients was 33; prior to the system's implementation, the number of errors for 101,731 patients was about 66.

Adelman said that his team recently won a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to study wrong-patient errors.

"We're submitting a grant to the NIH to study [whether] changing the children's names to a more distinct name will reduce patient errors," he told MedPage.

The accuracy of EMRs is constantly being improved upon in all aspects of healthcare. A recent study found that enabling patients to provide feedback on the medication lists in their records can improve the accuracy of EHRs, FierceEMR previously reported.

However, EMRs also have been scrutinized for wasting physicians time, especially when it comes to the possibility of the kind of miscommunications and problems Adelman is trying to prevent.

To learn more:
- read the MedPage Today article