A Minnesota woman is said to be suffering "emotional distress" after her newborn son was mistakenly given to the wrong mother, who breastfed the infant before hospital staff discovered the mix-up.
Both the mothers and the baby had to get tested for hepatitis and HIV, diseases that can be transmitted though breastfeeding after the incident at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.
Tammy Van Dyke, the mother whose baby was given to a stranger to breastfeed, said that she had left her son Cody in the nursery overnight so she could get some rest.
She said that when she woke up the next morning, there were two people in her hospital room telling her that Cody had been accidentally placed in the wrong bassinet in the nursery and was subsequently given to another woman to breastfeed.
"When the woman was breastfeeding my son she felt like something was wrong," Tammy told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "And she looked at the ID band on his ankle and realized that she had the wrong child, that she had my son."
The woman then immediately pushed the help button to ask the nurse to take the baby away.
Tammy said that the mistake was an "oversight" by the nurse who had failed to compare the newborn's identification wristband with that of the mother.
"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," she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a child accidentally fed breast milk from a woman who is not the mother should undergo HIV testing. The newborn has so far tested negative for both HIV and hepatitis, but as a precaution the he will need to be tested for diseases every three months for the next year.
"It was horrible," Tammy said, according to ABC News. "Two nurses had to go in through veins in his tiny little arms."
"You think you're going to get your baby back and you might not. I'm very lucky that I did get him back and everything was OK," he said.
The hospital issued Van Dyke a letter of apology and admission of negligence. The hospital admits that the babies were accidentally put in the wrong bassinets in the hospital nursery.
Hospital officials said that Abbott Northwestern Hospital gives matching wristbands to every newborn and his mother to prevent mix-ups.
"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 hospital said in a statement.
The hospital is still investigating how the mix-up occurred.
"As far as we know, this has never happened before at Abbott," hospital spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"Apparently, somebody didn't follow procedure, so that's what we're trying to figure out," she said. "And there will be consequences."
The latest incident isn't the first time hospital staff have mistakenly switched babies at birth.
In March, hospital staff at the Virginia Regional Medical Center accidentally brought a newborn the wrong mother, and like the recent incident that happened at Abbot, the baby was breastfed by the stranger before doctors discovered the mistake.
Since then, the Virginia hospital has installed a new digital baby-mother matching system to prevent future mix-ups.
Published by Medicaldaily.com