A Minnesota mother was horrified recently when she began breastfeeding her newborn son in the hospital and realized he was not her baby.
She immediately summoned the nurse, who discovered that the woman’s baby and another had been placed in the wrong bassinets in the nursery; she was forced to endure an agonizing wait as hospital staff searched for her son and had to undergo an HIV test because her breast milk had been transferred to the baby.
The woman whose baby was breastfed says she took him to the nursery in order to get some sleep.
“My advice would be – and I’m sure this is a rare occurrence and never happens – is don’t put your baby in the nursery because you don’t know what could happen,” Tammy Van Dyke said.
The hospital issued an apology to the mothers and a statement to the public, saying it had never happened before.
“While hospital procedures require staff to match codes on the infant’s and mother’s identification bands in order to prevent incidents like this, it appears these procedures were not followed in this case,” the statement read.
Penny Wheeler, an OB and Chief Clinical Officer, issued a statement as well.
“On behalf of Abbott Northwestern, I am very sorry this incident occurred. Providing the best possible patient experience and care quality is our foremost concern and this incident should not have occurred. As an obstetrician, I have personally seen verification of the infant’s identifying name band matched correctly with the mother’s on hundreds of occasions. It is extremely unfortunate that was not the case this time. We sincerely apologize to the involved families and will make certain we understand why our procedures were not appropriately followed in this case.”
Luckily, Abbot–like most hospitals–enforces I.D. tags which are placed on the wrists of new moms and the ankles of newborns to link them together. Some hospitals even place a security sensor on the legs of all newborns which triggers an alarm when the baby is taken out of the nursery by an unqualified person. Gloria O’Connell, a spokesperson for the hospital, said they are investigating how the mixup happened.
“Apparently, somebody didn’t follow procedure, so that’s what we’re trying to figure out. And there will be consequences.”