Bringing a baby into the world is a joyous event. But the threat of infant abduction is still a very real one. “A report in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that 68.1% of infant abductions occur in hospital.” Since 1983, 132 infant abductions have occurred in hospitals, whether in the mother’s room, the nursery, or the pediatric floor. And abductors can be anyone (relatives or complete strangers) or impersonate anyone (nurses, babysitters, social workers, etc.). While no one wants to ponder the chances of this happening, having a comprehensive plan to keep newborns safe between birth and departure is a must for any pediatric or obstetric floor.
Understanding Your Needs and Considering Cost
Infant abduction systems have evolved in recent years to better protect families’ newest members as well as streamline system management for hospital staff. While the core concept of tags and alerts remains the same, the capabilities of these systems have been redefined. When evaluating a system it’s important to understand your needs and how they can be met as well as consider potential costs.
1. Your solution needs to create a secure perimeter. The goals: to prevent abduction attempts, match mothers to their babies, and track any missing newborns. Infant protection systems must be sophisticated enough to achieve these goals and become a trusted and effective security tool.
2. Your system needs to help, not hinder, staff. Your nursing staff is committed to providing extraordinary patient care, empathy, and compassion. Help them stay engaged on what matters most by employing an infant protection system that assists your staff in elevating patient care while minimizing interference and distraction.
3. Your solution needs to enhance communication between staff. Communication is critical to security—a complete system should boost integration features, comply with interface stands, and follow common alert protocols.
4. Your system needs to decrease alarm fatigue. Even a casual observer will notice the number of beeping machines in any hospital. From monitoring vital signs and medications to preventing things like fire and theft, alarm fatigue is a real problem in any hospital setting. Be sure to choose a solution that will maintain a safe environment as well as ensure the peace-of-mind of new parents.
5. Your solution needs to be easy to use. Let your nurses and staff spend less time managing a system and more time focusing on the wellbeing of babies, mothers, and families. Choose a system that’s easy-to-use and allows your staff to conduct simulated infant abductions. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends hospitals conduct surprise drills to ensure staff understand the system as well as the security procedures to prevent an abductor from exiting the facility. Making sure that everyone is properly trained and understands how the infant protection system works is critical.
6. You should consider upfront cost. Capture and quantify your overall purchase cost—from the price of each tag and bracelet to any training fees and support costs. Be sure to ask questions about how your sum breaks down so that you have a clear understanding of how dollars will be allocated.
7. You should understand lifetime cost. The potential lifetime cost of your infant protection system can be convoluted—from replacing tags to continued training to the risk of forced obsolescence. If the company you partner with discontinues your system and the support of it within 7-10 years of your purchase (that’s how long your solution should last, at minimum) your costs could double.
8. You should think about upgrade cost. Making the wrong decision in an infant protection system can be a costly one. Before you make any purchasing decision thinking about: total cost of ownership, features, rate of false alarms, compliance, and comprehensive customer service.
“It [an infant protection system] adds another measure of comfort and confidence for parents.”
–Susan Kennedy, OB Nurse Manager.