The Grapevine

Every Parent's Worst Nightmare: Newborn's Skull Fractured After Getting Dropped By Drowsy Delivery Nurse

baby
A nurse's drowsiness resulted in the serious injury of a newborn. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

At 6 a.m. this past Tuesday, a nurse at Uniontown Hospital in Pennsylvania fractured a newborn’s skull after dropping him. Authorities are currently investigating the incident, but a doctor's remarks to the mother suggest it was not the nurse’s negligence that was at fault, but rather a broken medical system.

According to the child’s mother, Jacqueline Hunt, a pediatrician revealed to her that the nurse had appeared to be “drowsy” and “fell asleep and dropped him.” According to police reports, the veteran nurse lost her grip on the 1-day-old infant while feeding and burping him, Fox News reported. Although the infant sustained a skull fracture, the injury is not believed to be life-threatening and doctors predict the child will make a full recovery.

However, both police and those involved in the incident are still investigating. The nurse is described as having over 30 years of experience in her field, so a lack of skills was dismissed as a factor. 

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is all too familiar for nurses working in America. A 2014 survey revealed that more than 3,300 Houston-area nurses surveyed reported feeling both stressed and overworked. A total of 64 percent said they rarely get seven to eight hours of sleep per night and 31 percent said they get enough sleep just two to three nights a week. Only 17 percent of the nurses surveyed reported that they were “always” able to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Lack of sleep combined with 12-hour shifts, sometimes without breaks, can make it difficult for nurses to find time to unwind and relax. According to the report, this affects both their physical and mental health.

“Long hours (12-hour shifts), working nights, poor pay, poor benefits that are dependent on maintaining hours to prevent losing the benefits, lack of PTO to cover sick/vacation days,” explained one nurse involved in the survey.

These poor working conditions nurses are subjected to come with consequences, as the recent incidence has demonstrated. It is unlikely that the nurse will face criminal charges, but Uniontown Hospital plans on conducting their own investigation of the incidence. The hospital explained that it is taking the case “seriously and personally,” releasing an official apology following the incident that read: "We are sorry that such a wonderful event has been overshadowed by an unfortunate situation."

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