Temporary baby swap at hospital: How big a deal would it be, moms?

So here’s the scoop…

My question to mothers is: What would your response be?

I would like to know this because as I started reading this story, I thought: Somebody messed up. Nerves were frayed. The right babies are placed in the right hands. What remains is a cute story to tell for years to come.

Unfortunately, the news story has a whole different tone: on the second page the following innocuous sentence appears:

I find it challenging to believe that this woman’s motives are pure.

Since I cannot really relate to how a mother would feel in such a situation, I ask mothers: If you were that mother, would you have a lawyer?

The larger concern I see is that the nurse did not follow a simple and well-established procedure. If she’s not following that one, how can she be trusted to do the difficult things? Would you be sure, for example, that she’s giving you the right medicines, or whatever.

This story demonstrates one argument in favor of being awake and aware when your children are born. I held my babies seconds after birth and I sure as heck would have known if a different one were brought in a few hours later.

If for some reason that had not been possible, and they had introduced someone else’s baby to me as my own, damn right I would have been angry. It just shows sloppiness. I don’t know if I would have gotten a lawyer, though.

In my experience, when the nurses brought the babies to the room, they read the names and numbers out loud off the baby’s wristband and asked you to check it.

I don’t know about getting a lawyer but I’d be furious and frightened by this mix up. Maybe getting a lawyer is the proper channel for investigating this situation(?), I don’t know. My daughter never left the room until after a few hours and then the nurses brought her right back. I KNOW she was the same baby, my baby.

That nurse NEEDED to be fired. There is absolutely no room for error when it comes to something like that, and there’s no reason for a mistake to happen. When I had my daughter they checked our numbers EVERY time they brought her to us, without fail. Checking numbers is probably tedious but it’s not brain surgery.

Would I sue? Not over a 2 hour incident. A longer time period, maybe.

Had I gone HOME with the wrong baby, definitely, and I’d go for the throat. There is no terror like looking into the eyes of a child you are completely in love with and thinking, for a brief second, “What if they came tomorrow and told me there’d been a mistake at the hospital?” You get weird and start planning what you’d do, seriously (plane, New Zealand, pronto). I can’t imagine how horrible it is for people who have gone through this.

It’s a VERY big deal. It sounds like the hospital is handling it well; the nurse who screwed up has been fired, and the others are going through extra training.

On the other hand, getting a lawyer when both babies ended up where they should have, with no harm to anyone, seems a bit extreme. Methinks that Mom and Dad are visualizing how they’re going to pay for junior’s college tuition.

Maybe, Nightingale. It’s very possible.

It could very well be, though, that they are still in “panic” mode and haven’t thought this through. Maybe they’ll relax in a while and drop the suit.

I’m curious about this point, also… I would have known in a heartbeat if I didn’t recognize the baby brought to my hospital room, and I was pretty drugged up for the birth! Why didn’t that mother notice that it wasn’t her baby?

“A baby was brought to me to be breast-fed, and it was the wrong baby, only nobody realized that until a couple hours later,” Amy Carey told New York City’s WABC-TV.

Beg pardon? NOBODY realized, including the outraged mother?

Some hospitals still whisk the baby away as soon as it’s born, that may be the case here. I’d like to think I’d recognise my baby, but until I was in the situation, I can’t say for certain.

It would be a HUGE deal. It screws my heart into a little ball just thinking about it. What if the mistake had not been discovered till days later? What if the other mother had some disease that she had passed to your baby in her breastmilk?

When my first was born in a hospital in Japan, I was determined that he would not be let out of my sight. Things are very slack here, they put wrist bands on the baby but not the mother, (Baby Hokkaido’s bands were so big they constantly fell off…) and the unlocked baby room was at the head of the stairs, at the bottom of which was the unmonitored visitors entrance.

I held my baby all night and he was taken the following morning for his first bath and evaluation by the pediatrician. When he was returned, I had a moment of panic because I didn’t recognise him, despite the hours of staring at him during the night. I was able to tell he was mine because he had deep grooves on his wrists where his over-long nails had scratched him in utero.

When I told my Japanese husband this, he roared with laughter and told me there was NO WAY that anyone could mistake our son for theirs. He helped me up to the baby room and showed me a long line of tiny black haired, black eyed babies with our huge pink grub in the middle of them. After that I wasn’t at all worried about mistakes in mother-swapping but I was still bothered about abduction, because he was just the most gorgeous baby in the hospital!

This was exactly what I was thinking when I posted this. It’s reason enough to get furious, but not justification for immediate lawyer action.

I hope that SnoopyFan’s later post is right and clearer heads prevail after they cool off.

It seems too much to me like a really scary near miss – hard to see the kind of heavy-duty damage done that merits some kind of jury award.

I doesn’t say that they are suing, just that they hired a lawyer. It might take a lawyer to cut through the red tape at the hospital just so they can find out for sure what happened.

Breastmilk is living tissue. It is a vector for disease transmission. I would be absolutely livid to learn that someone else had breastfed my child and that I had breastfed another woman’s child because someone couldn’t be bothered to do their damned job properly.

There is an established method in place to prevent these incidents and it was not followed, despite the fact that it takes less than a minute to ensure that the identification bracelets on mother and child match.

Would I sue? Perhaps not, but I would retain someone who had the wherewithal to make properly forceful suggestions of possible legal liability if the hospital didn’t tighten things up. Firing one nurse isn’t and cannot be the end of the issue.

I would be furious but I would not sue as there were no damages. I would demand an investigation and accountability for those involved in the mixup. If the hospital dragged their feet on the investigation I might think about getting a lawyer in order to ensure that they do so.

This sounds like an excellent argument for having the baby in the room with you all the time. Eek!

I wouldn’t sue over a couple of hours, but I’d be FURIOUS.

Where I work, it is an absolute policy to check the bands each and every time a baby is presented. To do otherwise is a violation of a very firm hospital policy and you can (and probably will) be let go for not doing so.

Agreed, unfortunately the baby is often “whisked away” in those first couple days by the hospital staff. Vaccinations, circumcision, photographs, examinations, etc.–plus for a bit of down time so mother can sleep if she’s lucky. And as for not recognizing your own baby, I think it’s very possible. Personally, I had a C-section with my second and didn’t even see him until he was an hour or so old. They could have put a pod-baby in my arms and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

So take into consideration that a mother, after giving birth, is exhausted, stressed, emotional, and often in pain and I can see how she might not recognize an infant that she’d only held for a short time previously. Should she sue over this incident where all ended well and the nurse has been fired? No. Is it right that the nurse was fired? Oh yeah.

I’d have to agree that a lawyer just means that the parents want information, not that they intend to sue. The hospitals are their own worst enemy here. In my area, the official hospital policy is to stonewall at every turn, no matter what. Ironically, this is to prevent any admission of error so that nobody can gain bring suit.

Instead, it makes people so angry at the doctors and hospital that they end up hoping that something goes wrong just so they can sue the SOB’s

There was a guy I worked with who went into the hospital for a knee operation. He woke up from anesthesia with a front tooth missing. But NOBODY would tell him how it occured, or give any explanation. He hired a lawyer, and, to make a long story short, found out that a nurse was passing an oxygen tank to the anesthetist over his face when it slipped and hit him in the mouth. He is now sueing. If the hospital had admitted the mistake and paid for a few trips to the dentist they could have saved themselves a law suit.

A good argument for home births.

I’ve got a little crimp in my ear that my mom says she used to distinguish me from other babies. Lucky thing, or who knows where I could have ended up?!

Speaking as a {hrmph, hrmph} Father, I will add that I would have been just as upset as any Mother if it happened to me.

I remember the hormonal state I was in after I had my daughter and I would have had an hysterical fit. There is a trust relationship that a woman has with the hospital when she’s just given birth, and this is a tremendous violation of that on an emotional level, never mind the obvious failure to follow hospital policy.

When I was in the hospital with my daughter, there was a very small mix-up and just that was enough to be shaking in anger and fear (and again, hormones). 3 different times nurses came into my room to take my daughter away saying, “Now, the circumcision should only take a few moments and we’ll have baby right back here after.” The first two times I said “Fucking **what? ** She’s a girl!” After the third time a nurse tried to take my daughter for a circumcision I got up out of my bed (less than 24 hours post-partum) and had a huge slobbery fit at the nurses station, and the nursing supervisor got me calmed down and finally sorted out what was going wrong. But boy was I pissed, and I remember thinking “What is wrong with these people? Why can’t they keep track of my baby!”

I never thought of hiring a lawyer because really, now that I have perspective it wasn’t that big of a deal, and presumably if they had gotten that far they would have figured out that she wasn’t a boy. :wink: But I can understand the incredible sense of betrayal and horror that this mix-up would have caused in these families.