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Babies to get barcoded wristbands

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A Northamptonshire hospital believes it could be the first in the country to simultaneously create a barcoded wristband for newborn babies and a sticky label for heel prick tests.

Kettering General Hospital will produce barcoded bloodspots rather than handwritten bands within an hour of birth, in the hope of making them clearer and more detailed.

These are attached to the child’s ankle or wrist and the heel prick labels are added to the baby record book for parents to keep.

According to the hospital, the National Patient Safety Agency asked for standardised wristbands to be used throughout the NHS, while the UK Newborn Screening Programme asked all maternity units to produce barcoded blood spot cards by April 1 this year.

A spokesman said the new system means Kettering General has introduced both methods for its labour ward.

He said the hospital was not the first to use barcoded bands for babies, but may be one of the first to combine this with heel prick testing labels.

The new method allows hospital staff to have a lot of information about the baby, including name, NHS number, date of birth, sex and mother’s name - whereas previously basic information would have been hand-written on the wrist band, which could be less reliable.

IT project manager at Kettering General Hospital, Paula Lilburn, said: “The main reason for the introduction of barcoded wristbands and barcoded heel prick blood spot labels is to improve safety in hospitals.

“The new system is quicker and safer because if the barcoded information can be quickly read by the computers without the possibility of human transcription errors.”

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