Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 11/21/2012 05:53 | By Channel NewsAsia

Hospitals rely on tags, staff, parents to prevent mix—up of babies

Hospitals rely on tags, staff, parents to prevent mix—up of babies

Hospitals rely on tags, staff, parents to prevent mix—up of babies

SINGAPORE: Hospitals in Singapore have in place robust procedures to ensure that parents do not go home with the wrong baby.

But they also rely on staff and parents to prevent mistakes.

Channel NewsAsia checked with five hospitals on their systems, a day after KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) revealed its mix—up over two babies who were discharged to the wrong sets of parents on Sunday.

All babies are tagged and are carefully checked to ensure that they are matched with their mothers.

Still, the unexpected had happened at KKH.

The baby who left the hospital first had two correct tags with his mother’s name.

The second baby was wearing mismatched tags.

One tag had the name of his mother, while the other carried the name of the mother of the first baby.

This incident has left many wondering why the checks were not thorough enough.

Other maternity hospitals that Channel NewsAsia checked with also rely on tagging.

Each baby is given two tags minutes after birth and when it is time to leave the hospital, staff would check both tags to confirm their identities.

Mount Elizabeth Hospital takes extra simple steps, such as getting the mothers to read out the babies’ tags.

It also uses Radio—frequency identification to match baby and mother.

Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s chief executive officer, Dr Kelvin Loh, said: "Only if the baby goes off the correct mother, the tag will give off a pleasant chime.

"If the baby goes to the wrong mother, it will actually sound off an alarm so that will be an additional mechanism that will help to match the baby to the right mother."

At least one other hospital is looking at using new technology to ensure that newborn babies are paired with the right mothers.

KKH is still investigating the mix—up and is working with the health ministry to ensure this will be the only and last mix—up incident.

— CNA/lp

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