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Naming your baby

Protecting newborns from medical-record mishaps

Naming your baby is a big decision.

Some couples have names picked out before they conceive. Others don’t name their baby until they see him or her for the first time, or even wait a few days after birth before giving their baby a name.

If a baby does not have a name at birth, hospitals will assign newborns temporary first names such as “baby boy” or “baby girl,” along with the mother’s last name. A recent study featured in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official journal, Pediatrics, found that sometimes indistinct naming conventions such as “baby boy” or “baby girl” can increase the risk of wrong-patient errors, or result in a provider giving a newborn the wrong treatment.

Dr. Jessica Maute of Novant Health UVA Health System Lake Manassas OB/GYN in Gainesville, Virginia, said Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center is taking steps to make sure these mistakes don’t happen.

“We use the mother’s full name when identifying the newborn,” she said. “That way we have an additional identifier. Since our hospital opened in March 2014, we haven’t had any issues so far.”

Novant Health also has a policy to always check the baby band to confirm the name, birthday and medical record number. These three identifiers help confirm the right baby receives the right treatment.

Name alerts are used in the medical records in cases where two patients have similar last names. In such situations, the record calls for providers to double- and triple-check the patient’s identity.

Maute described a situation where two patients had the same last name and collectively were giving birth to three babies.

“Our unit used a different color chart for each baby to make sure the right chart was with the right patient,” Maute said. “Any way to make sure mistakes are less common is always a good idea.”

Another way Novant Health medical centers are ensuring newborns are receiving the right treatment is having them stay in the room with their mothers.

“If your baby doesn’t leave your side, there’s no doubt they have the right one,” Maute said.

But when it comes to choosing your baby’s name, Maute said the decision should not be taken lightly.

“In my opinion, it’s good to have it at least narrowed down,” Maute said. “I don’t think there’s a problem in waiting to name your baby until you see him or her. Naming your baby is a huge decision, and it should not be done rapidly just to have it on the medical record.”

If you are pregnant, or are planning on having a child and want some ideas, take a look at the top 10 baby names for 2014:


  • Noah
  • Liam
  • Mason
  • Jacob
  • William
  • Ethan
  • Michael
  • Alexander
  • James
  • Daniel


  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Sophia
  • Isabella
  • Ava
  • Mia
  • Emily
  • Abigail
  • Madison
  • Charlotte

Published: 8/26/2015