According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 132 infants have been successfully abducted from healthcare facilities in the past 30 years (as of September 2014). The good news is that there have been zero abductions from healthcare facilities since 2012, most likely because hospitals are embracing security measures such as enhanced visitor management processes and RFID-based asset tracking technologies.
In order to deter infants from being removed from a postnatal ward without authorization, every baby wears an ankle band outfitted with an active RFID tag that transmits data to a real-time locating system (RTLS) application hosted on a PC. The active tag within the band sends “presence signals” every few seconds to provide the system information about where in the building the tag is located, similarly to how a dolphin would use echolocation to better understand its surroundings. Because these signals are continuously supervised, an alert is produced on the application when the signal is lost and an alarm sounds when the band is tampered with.
A less well-recognized oversight regarding infants in healthcare facilities includes mother-baby mismatch incidents. With a similar RFID tag embedded within a bracelet worn by the mother, she is assured that no inadvertent switch has taken place as long as a green indicator light is illuminated on both bracelets.
Using an extensive set of policies and procedures along with electronic monitoring and tracking systems will provide the most comprehensive form of infant abduction prevention and security within your healthcare facility. For more information about enhancing visitor management processes for healthcare, check out our blog post, "Violence in the emergency department: visitor management systems." Also, feel free to review this infographic from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that describes how the typical infant abductor looks and behaves to better understand how to prevent future abductions from taking place: