“I could no longer stand back and watch the real and potential infant identification errors that were happening around me. This was not only happening in hospitals where I worked in the UK and Australia, but countless reports of infant identification errors were becoming more and more prevalent around the world,” Ogelsby said. In Queensland alone there had been 4,544 new born infants wrongly identified, she said.
After studying for her Masters of Midwifery in 2004, Ogelsby continued to work as a midwife while researching and developing a solution to the identification problem.
“By far the biggest issue with errors in identification is with the management of breast milk. In one study 50 per cent of babies were at risk of being given the wrong breast milk. Often these babies are premature and are in special care units so they are particularly vulnerable to infection. If they are given the wrong breast milk they have to be tested for HIV and hepatitis for the next six months. And if an infant is given breast milk that is past its use-by date, it has to have its stomach pumped.”
Ogelsby is a mother of five daughters and knows what it is like to be a parent of a newborn and the impact of potential infant identification errors on families. She devised Babywatch, an infant identification and baby management system which she developed in consultation with CMO Global, a global quality, audit, risk and compliance management software company.
Babywatch is a wristband barcode system which works in conjunction with mobile handheld PDA scanners. It tracks, verifies, monitors and logs all actions and procedures involving newborns during their stay in hospital, from birth to discharge or transfer to another hospital. It can cover the entire hospital operation from point of admission and patient bedside to pharmacy, laboratory and blood bank, according to Ogelsby.
Using barcodes Babywatch enables caregivers to positively identify the infant when removed or returned to the mother and link anything collected from, administered to or performed on that infant. Not only does the system log that this action has occurred, consequently charting the information, but it also eliminates all possibility of human error in the baby identification process when completing such actions on the baby.
Through a unique, dual-checking system, Babywatch acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’, ensuring that the correct baby is with the right mother, or the right baby is drinking the right expressed breast milk for example, thus totally eradicating errors.
“The system can be integrated with care plans including feed schedules. Where the mother is expressing milk but is not resident in the hospital, the system can alert her via SMS when milk stocks are running low and she needs to bring in more milk.
“With real-time documentation and comprehensive data collection and verification, the system eliminates illegible handwriting and signatures in records. Bar coding minimizes human error and improves patient safety,” Ogelsby said.
Babywatch enables a hospital to monitor, evaluate and improve on its current procedures, systems and quality management and to manage the risk of wrongly identified babies.
In Australia Ogelsby is working with Peacock Bros., a GS1 Australia Alliance Partner, to implement the system in Australian hospitals. Peacock Bros. supply, install and support world-leading barcode data capture equipment and software and label printing systems.
David Perry, Peacock Bros. Healthcare Enterprise Solutions Manager, said the company recommends the Zebra HC100 printer wristband printer, with GS1 DataMatrix barcodes, is used to print infants’ wristbands. “GS1 DataMatrix is sufficiently small to fit on the wristband yet can carry a lot of information. Zebra’s solution has been developed specifically for the needs of healthcare providers and makes wristband printing easier and more cost-effective than laser solutions. The printer detects wristband size—adult, pediatric, infant—and automatically calibrates its settings for optimal print quality,” Perry said.
“Also by using the small GS1 DataMatrix barcodes, you can print them multiple times around the wristband, eliminating the need to disturb the infant or parent when trying to get a clear view for scanning of the barcode. It might not sound like much but disturbing the infant is a big deal and the parents don’t get much sleep as it is, so is another definite plus for GS1 standard barcodes,” he said.
Tania Snioch, GS1 Australia Industry Manager – Healthcare, said GS1 standards have a significant part to play in initiatives such as Babywatch. “Use of GS1 global standard barcodes and globally unique patient identifiers mean that wristbands applied in one hospital or location can be used in other care facilities without the risk of duplication or patient misidentification.“This also eliminates the need to remove and replace wristbands as patients move between facilities, and the inherent risk associated with this,” she said.