Preventing hospital error in the maternity ward

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Written by Sarah Brooks We've all heard the horror stories of what can happen in a hospital when delivering a baby - everything from babies being...

Written by Sarah Brooks


We've all heard the horror stories of what can happen in a hospital when delivering a baby - everything from babies being switched at birth to babies being kidnapped.

NBC Newsrecently uncovered a story of two men who were switched at birth when the hospital worker bathed the babies and returned them to the wrong mothers. One grew up in poverty; the other grew up in wealth. The one who mistakenly grew up in poverty was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages - but unfortunately he cannot get his proper childhood back.

This is only one of stories out there.

New moms are oftentimes pregnant and scared about the pregnancy and birth itself, much less having to worry about safety in the hospital.


Maternity Ward Security is the Key

Security in the maternity ward is getting stronger and stronger.

UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, for example, requires that all hospital employees wear unique photo ID badges. As a mom, you know not to let anyone without this badge take your baby. UnityPoint also does not submit birth announcements to local newspapers. Kidnappings have been linked to new births, so to further protect the infant UnityPoint keeps new births a private matter.

"Safe Place" - a state-of-the-art infant monitoring system - was recently installed in San Gorgonio Hospital.

Soft bands with sensors are placed on the newborn babies to track where they are. Additional sensors are placed around all the exits of the maternity ward. If a baby is brought too close to one of the exits, the doors lock and an alarm will go off. This helps new moms feel at ease knowing their baby cannot be taken off of the premises.


Preventing Babies from Being Switched at Birth

Nowadays, almost all hospitals place a band on the baby immediately following the birth to prevent babies from accidently being switched. The band includes the date and time of birth, last name of the newborn, and first and last name of the mother.

Since these bands are placed immediately on the babies, the chance of them being switched at birth is slim to none.


What New Moms Can Do

If you're worried about your baby's safety in the hospital, there are some precautions you, as a parent, can take.

Keep your baby in your room and by your side at all times. Ask the doctor if any tests that the baby needs can be done in the room instead of taking the baby away. If your baby does need to go to a different room, either go with the baby yourself or have a trusted family member go. Memorize your baby's face as soon as he or she is born. Note any interesting or unique features.

My first daughter had a small skin tag on her ear. I checked for this each and every time she was returned to the room. This greatly put my mind at ease and assured me my baby would not be mistaken for someone else's.


Please note that even though it does happen, having your baby switched at birth is extremely rare.

There are not many documented cases of this happening, especially with ID bracelets and amped up security in hospitals.


About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics including healthcare, parenting and travel.


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