Key considerations when choosing and installing an infant security system

Define Your Requirements

Before shopping for systems, hospitals should review their existing infrastructure— including security systems, human resources, hardware and software support, technology devices, storage facilities, and IT services—to support a smooth integration of infant protection solution.

Hospitals can form an interdisciplinary team of clinicians, safety representatives, nursing leadership, and educators to outline the facility’s requirements. Along with standard infant tags, hospitals could implement additional security layers such as secure access control and mother and infant identification systems to enhance patient satisfaction.

Review the Marketplace

Traditionally, infant tags were large and heavy, especially for the small limbs of newborns, but, due to advances in integrated chips and radio-frequency technologies, the tags are now lighter and smaller. Modern infant security solutions are tags, bracelets, or transmitters that produce RFID signals, which are received by specific devices and receivers around protected areas, enabling real-time location in clinics and hospitals. The protection technologies use a hospital’s Wi-Fi network to integrate into existing security and control processes, such as staff and nurse call systems, mobile phone applications, and in-unit LCD screens.

The tag bands are soft, designed for self-adjustment, and include cut-band detection, which alerts staff when tags are removed. In recent years, vendor consolidation has been prevalent in the market with several vendors being acquired or selling their security businesses to larger entities. The major vendors offering advanced infant protection systems in the U.S. market include RF Technologies, GuardRFID, Stanley Healthcare, Accutech Healthcare, Secure Care Products, McRoberts Technologies, and CenTrak.

Know What to Expect from Vendors

In May 2018, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses revealed that recent studies estimate 90% of critical care alarms are false or clinically irrelevant. High volumes of false alarms contribute to user complaints, system nonacceptance, and alarm fatigue. It is important for hospitals to collaborate closely with infant protection system vendors to implement a system design that reduces or eradicates nuisance alarms.

Vendor support should be a key focus for hospitals when selecting an infant security solution.  Greenwich Health’s program director of Fertility & Women and Children’s Services, Brenda Misuraca, suggests having a single vendor point of contact to resolve technical issues, train and educate staff, and provide additional support for any other issues. Chris Schroeder, obstetrics director at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, told HBI that support and training received from the vendor led to an effective implementation, and routine check-ins ensure ongoing success with the system.

Determine Who Owns the System

Defining which individuals and/or departments have primary ownership of the system is important for the assignment of responsibilities, including who is accountable for maintaining the system, liaising with the system’s vendor, and overseeing stock locations. The nursing department commonly plays a key role in the system’s ownership, since nurses are the first point of contact for mothers and infants. Hospitals either have interdepartmental or collaborative ownerships, such as nursing leadership and security representatives, or solo oversight of nursing teams to achieve optimal utilization of infant security systems.

To facilitate communication, one of the major evolutions in infant security systems is the shift from single-computer controlled systems to systems that run on decentralized, distributed servers. Technological flexibilities and customizable options offered by these security systems aid in maintaining facility safety protocols and prevent potential abductions, mother and infant mismatches, and infant healthcare-acquired infections.