An NHS hospital has become the first in the country to issue all new born babies with BAR CODES instead of traditional handwritten tags.
The move at Kettering General Hospital’s maternity unit is designed to end mistakes caused by the notoriously messy handwriting of doctors and nurses.
Now all babies are getting a personal bar code strapped on their ankle which Midwives zap with a scanner to read the baby’s details.
Medical staff can find the child’s name, date of birth, National Insurance number and name of the mother in a matter of seconds.
They can also send trace blood samples at a press of a button via a regional laboratory which tests for conditions such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.
Bar coding, which is more traditionally used at supermarkets and shops, means midwives no longer need to decipher scruffy handwriting.
It also eliminates the risk of scribbling wrong facts or figures in health notes so reducing the risk of childhood conditions and diseases going unnoticed.
The foundation hospital, in Northamptonshire, is the first in the country to replace all handwritten notes with baby bar codes and follows a government national safety review.
Bar codes are estimated to cut the time spent by midwives, nurses and doctors on paperwork by around 400 per cent.
Paula Lilburn, the hospital’s information and technology project manager, said: ”The new system is quicker and safer because the bar coded information can be quickly read by the computers without the possibility of human transcription errors.”
Kettering General Hospital spent three months developing the electronic baby system.
The first babies to be bar coded were born earlier this week.
Previously midwives or doctors wrote the new born’s name, mother and date of birth and NI number on the a baby’s ankle band.
Midwives would also fill in a handwritten form and send it with blood tests to a regional laboratory.
Scientists faced problems deciphering different handwriting which could lead to dangers in failing to spot or diagnose some conditions.
The ankle bar code also include a heel prick blood sample label taken after five weeks which proud new parents can take home with them in a little red baby book.
Gail Johnson, education and professional development adviser at Royal College of Midwifery, said: ”
This is about making sure the right information is shared..
”It makes it safer so there can be no mistakes and streamlines the service.
”If you have got to write out numbers four or five times there is the potential for mistakes.
”But if you have got it in a bar code you get rid of mistakes and eradicate human error.”