Mom Sues Hospital After Another Woman Breastfeeds Her Baby
It's probably one of every mother's worst nightmares — that something could happen to her baby while she is in the hospital.
While most hospitals have very strict rules about taking newborns from their parents and protocol to follow to always match bands (with numbers or more technical tags that actually scan) and last names that have to be the same, it sounds like mistakes can still happen. It's easy to see how it could happen. I remember working those long overnight shifts as a nurse and being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I'm thankful to say that I always took the rules of matching babies very, very seriously, as did all of my fellow nurses. That's just something you can't mess up.
For good reason, obviously.
The incident happened in Missouri back in 2012, but as these legal matters tend to do, the lawsuit has taken some time before it's gone through.
The mother's name is Tammy Van Dyke and she gave birth at a hospital called Abbott Northwestern Hospital to a son she named Cody. Although the exact details aren't completely known, somehow a staff member accidentally gave Van Dyke's baby to another woman, who had delivered twins. Van Dyke had sent her baby to the nursery, presumably so that she could get some rest, and while returning babies, a staff member put Cody in the wrong bassinet. The hospital acknowledged the error later and admitted that whoever returned the baby also failed to follow the protocol for matching band numbers upon returning the baby to his or her mother.
Understandably, the poor mother of twins was probably exhausted and didn't even notice that her baby had been switched out. Unfortunately for Van Dyke (but not for the actual baby she gave birth to and yes, this is getting confusing) the twin mother was breastfeeding, so she nursed Van Dyke's baby, believing he was her own son, Liam. It turns out that she actually had Cody for a full two hours before the error was realized.
Per protocol, Cody did have to go through a year of blood tests for HIV and hepatitis, which fortunately turned out to be negative. But the stress and long year of testing, not to mention the physical discomfort caused Van Dyke to decide to sue. She filed a lawsuit against the hospital citing that they “negligently failed to care” for her son and that her son has had to go through “unnecessary medical treatment and tests”.
She is suing for $50,000 in damages, which seems like quite a bit to me but then again, you can never be too careful with these things. Although incidents like these are extremely rare, it is a good reminder that if you are going in to have a baby, always be sure to check your baby's band and maybe even have another way to identify your baby, such as a special outfit or hat.