Hospital Admits Sending Baby to Wrong Mom; Child is Breast Fed By Her

Updated: 12/07/2012 7:11 AM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

An Apple Valley woman who gave birth to a baby boy Monday at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, learned Wednesday that he was switched in the hospital nursery and breast-fed by another woman.

After the mistake was discovered, the baby's mother, Tammy Van Dyke, said she and her son Cody, and the other mother, all had to undergo blood testing for HIV and hepatitis as a precaution.

"In good faith you drop your child off at the hospital nursery with the nurses," Van Dyke said. "Never in a mIllion years would you think this could happen or would happen."

An apology letter to Van Dyke from Abbott Northwestern Hospital admits that Cody was put in the wrong bassinet, and that the hospital has launched a full investigation into the mishap.

Van Dyke said she was told "the woman who was breast feeding my son hit the call nurse button because she looked at his ankle tag that had my baby's name."

The hospital released the following public statement as well: "Yesterday morning at Abbott Northwestern Hospital an infant was taken from the newborn nursery to the wrong room and was briefly breast-fed by a woman who is not this infant's mother. While hospital procedures require staff to match codes on the infant's and mother's identification bands in order to prevent incidents like this, it appears these procedures were not followed in this case."

Making matters worse, Van Dyke had chosen to bottle feed Cody. "I haven't gotten angry," she said. "I'm still sad. I cried all day yesterday. I was hysterical and inconsolable. It's horrifying that somebody else's bodily fluids are in my son."

Van Dyke was able to meet with the other mother at the hospital. "She was just as horrified as me. She was going through the same trauma." Van Dyke said the woman, whose name she said she did not remember, told her that once she realized what had happened, it took hospital staff another 20 minutes to locate her baby.

Van Dyke said the other mother didn't initially realize she was nursing the wrong child because "it was dark in the room and she was exhausted and the nurse came in with this baby saying your baby's hungry."

Although the initial blood tests turned out negative, Van Dyke says Cody will now have to undergo more testing, to make sure his health hasn't been impacted long-term. The apology letter she received states, "The hospital agrees to pay for the additional testing that you had done today and will pay for tests recommended for your son related to this incident up to one year. We would also be open to any reasonable requests to cover the cost of additional testing if that should arise."

That's no consolation for Van Dyke."Getting tested for HIV--I mean, it's a disaster."

Van Dyke said the hospital needs to take steps to improve its mother and child identification process. "Something electronic so that you would have to scan both--so that this absolutely can't happen again."

She said she just can't shake the image of the other woman nursing her child. "I can't get it out of my mind," she said.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com