Indiana hospital to use new system for identifying newborns

WLFI File Photo

NEWBURGH, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana hospital is adopting a biometric imaging system for identifying newborns.

The new system at the Women’s Hospital at Deaconess Gateway entails pressing a baby’s foot against a scanner and creating a digital image. The hospital currently records a baby’s footprint using an inkless system involving pressing a foot onto a special kind of paper.

The facility wasn’t satisfied with the inkless print system because supplies were costly and there were difficulties getting clear prints from fidgety babies, said quality and patient safety officer Lori Grimm.

Footprints can be used to identify babies in cases of abduction or separation from their parents. Prints can also be helpful in differentiating between identical twins.

Grimm told the Evansville Courier & Press that a police agency contacted the hospital a few years ago looking for help in identifying a baby. She said the hospital gave the baby’s footprints, but they weren’t clear enough to be useful.

“If we’re going to do a print, we want it to be worthwhile,” Grimm said. “We had been looking for a while for a better solution to this problem.”

The technology being adopted by the hospital was developed by Connecticut-based startup CertaScan. The company began testing it about two years ago.

Jim McKenna, the company’s president and CEO, said 20 U.S. hospitals have adopted the technology so far. He expects that number to grow to 100 by the end of the year.

Footprint images are loaded into a database that can only be accessed by the hospital where the baby is born and the baby’s mother.

The Women’s Hospital will pay a fee to CertaScan for the system. Grimm said it will cost the hospital a little more than the inkless prints, but parents won’t see their bills go up.

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