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Board senseless
  1. Dr I Rodd1,
  2. Dr J Kohler2
  1. 1Paediatric SpR, Wessex region, UK;
  2. 2Southampton General Hospital, UK

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The ward patient name board is a familiar sight, placed prominently on most hospital wards. Concerns regarding guidance on patient confidentiality,1 stemming from the Caldicott report,2 led our trust to remove the boards from the general areas of the paediatric wards. They were placed in a less public area—generally the treatment room. It led to delays in staff being able to identify a child’s location and their nurse’s identity, and general dissatisfaction among the clinical teams.

The parents of 20 patients (age range 11 months to 13 years) on our regional paediatric oncology ward completed a questionnaire. Parents who had only recently received the diagnosis were excluded. Parents responded to five statements, with “strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree, or neither”.

  1. I object to having my child’s name and location on the board where everyone else can see it—17 disagreed (11 strongly), with 1 parent agreeing.

  2. I think that having the centrally placed name board helps the people looking after my child to quickly find out where my child is and who is looking after them—19 agreed (14 strongly), with 1 disagreeing.

  3. I think having my child’s name on the board represents a risk to their safety—18 disagreed (11 strongly), with no parents agreeing.

  4. I like to be able to look at the board to see which other patients whom we know are on the ward—18 agreed (13 strongly), with no disagreement.

  5. I would be happy for the name board to be re-introduced—19 agreed (15 strongly) with no disagreement.

Armed with these results, and mindful of various comments made by parents, the boards are back to their original place. On admission, the parents are asked whether they object to their child’s full name being placed on it. This appears to work well, with satisfaction among clinicians, parents, and managers—an unusual state of affairs!