Birthing centers like St. John's Mercy often have 60-90 babies at one time and up to 20 admissions per day. The NICU can see as many as 80 of those babies simultaneously. Even though care requirements for premature babies are unique, NICU babies received the same wristband IDs as full-term babies.
The NICU cares for various sized infants, from less than 500 grams to more than 10 pounds. The standard wristband was too large for many of the micro-preemies and too small for the many of larger babies. Of course, as the premature NICU patients grew, their wristbands did not.
Babies in the NICU can stay anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. During medical procedures on both short-term and long-term NICU babies, nurses often needed to remove or move the band. As a result, maternity staff had to cut off the fixed-sized wristbands and replace them numerous times, creating unnecessary waste and manual steps.
In addition, NICU babies often have skin integrity and sensitivity issues. While adequate against the skin of full term babies, the band was not well suited on the tiny NICU patients. NICU babies are often swaddled to replicate the mother's womb-like feel. With traditional wristbands, there was no optimal way to place identification on a swaddled NICU baby and access the identification information without unwrapping the blanket—and waking the baby.
St. John's Mercy Medical Center NICU put forth a plan to find an identification solution that supported NICU initiatives to improve care while facilitating medication administration and information management. The ultimate solution needed to address the special, and often critical, requirements of infant patients, both premature and full-term.