Controversy is born when new mom gets wrong babyA newborn at a Virginia hospital was briefly placed with the wrong mother in part because of a nurse's error.
By: Bill Hanna, Mesabi Daily News
VIRGINIA — A Virginia Regional Medical Center nurse brought the mother her newborn for breast feeding. But there was one really big problem — it was not the woman’s baby.
“Yes, it did happen,” hospital CEO Bill Smith said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We did an investigation and found out how it happened and have a corrective action plan so it won’t happen again.”
The baby was with the wrong mother for “no more than three minutes,” Smith said.
Was it breast-fed during that time?
“The father says yes. But we don’t know that,” Smith said.
Both families were upset, with one father so angry he took to Facebook to tell the story. “We received an e-mail from the irate father. He had done some soul-searching and dropped the whole issue. The Facebook site has been dropped,” Smith said.
The incident, which Smith said happened “several weeks ago,” was a mistake by the nurse. But a card ID function that has since been eliminated by VRMC officials also factored into the error. Smith said he would not comment on whether disciplinary action against the nurse has been taken.
The VRMC had a two-step process in place for mother/baby identification. Both failed in this case — one because it was flawed, the other because of human error.
An ID card followed the baby and included the room number of the mother. But Smith said there was a high volume of work the evening of the incident and the baby’s mother had a room change.
But when the nurse unknowingly entered what proved to be the wrong room, the baby’s bracelet was not matched with the woman’s.
“The card (system) should have been abolished long ago. But bracelet-to-bracelet should have been done,” Smith said. The bracelet check is mandatory, he said.
The VRMC has since disposed of the card check and added another layer of protection — an audio check for both mother and baby called “Hugs and Kisses.” It is programmed so that if the baby and mother aren’t compatible, a warning will sound.
Smith said the hospital is getting the audio check technology in now and will be applying it. “We will get as many as we need,” he said. “It’s a significantly large investment.”
Smith said there is plenty of remorse over the incident.
“We apologized to both families. We have done the best we can do,” he said.