NEW YORK — Parents are taking a risk when they don’t name their newborns right away, according to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.
If parents aren’t ready to commit to a name at the hospital, their newborn could be assigned a temporary moniker, sometimes as vague as “Babyboy” or “Babygirl.” That generic naming convention could lead to medical errors or instances in which babies get treatment that was meant to another child but is unnecessary for them, the study’s authors warn.
Scientists conducted a two-year before-and-after study to see if a more specific naming convention could mitigate those errors.
Instead of naming a child just by their gender, they had hospitals add the mother’s first name to the newborn’s moniker – for example, Wendysgirl. Then they tracked how many times a doctor who ordered work on a patient withdrew that order and applied it for another child, a practice known as Retract and Reorder (RAR).
The instances of RAR dropped significantly when the babies were given more specific placeholder names, the study found.
The authors of the study suggest hospitals use a more distinct method when identifying newborns whose parents have not named them yet.