PHOENIX – A decades-old hospital tradition is getting a major upgrade.
In at least 50 hospitals across the country, nurses are no longer using ink and paper to take a newborn’s footprints. Instead, they are taking a digital scan of the baby’s feet, which could potentially save that baby’s life.
The company that created the technology is called CertaScan. Within two hours after a baby is born, nurses bring a digital scanner into the hospital room and take a series of photographs of the baby’s feet. Then, the baby’s digital footprint is saved into a security database for life.
The database is linked to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It can then later be used by law enforcement.
"If there is a baby found in an earthquake, a fire, or just lost or something like that, we can then identify that baby using our system,” said David Yarnell, CEO of CertaScan Technologies.
In June, Tempe police were notified after a newborn baby girl was found in a backpack in a shopping cart in a Food City parking lot. She was apparently abandoned.
"Information from the hospital that they were able to provide us with indicated that this baby was a brand-new baby,” said Det. Lily Duran of the Tempe Police Department.
Here we are five months later and Tempe police say they have yet to identify the baby. No arrests have been made in the case. Had that baby been born in a hospital that used CertaScan, police likely would have been able to identify her in a matter of minutes.
"This is like an insurance policy. We can make sure that if we find a baby, that we can re-scan the baby's footprints and then we can find that baby's parents,” Yarnell said.
So far, no hospitals in Arizona have adopted CertaScan, but Yarnell said he is in talks with several hospitals in the Phoenix area.