Hospital gives mothers wrong babies

2011-07-18 13:00
Sydney - Staff at an Australian hospital accidentally mixed up two newborns and gave them to the wrong mothers, who breast-fed the infants before the mistake was caught, the hospital said on Monday.

A family member of one of the mothers noticed something was wrong and alerted staff after the mothers had been with the wrong infants for more than eight hours on Friday, said Stephen Roberts, CEO of St John of God Hospital, which is in the city of Geelong in southeastern Victoria state.

"It should be obviously a great time in any young family's life, and for us to have contributed to this situation, it disturbs us that it's happened," Roberts told Australian radio station 3AW. "But we are trying to do everything we can to support them."

In a statement, the hospital said the babies spent Thursday night in the nursery and were given to the wrong mothers early on Friday morning. The infants' identification bracelets were not checked against the ID bracelets on the mothers.

"Protocols are in place to ensure mothers are given their own baby, but it seems that in this instance human error was involved," the statement said.

The hospital was investigating how the mistake happened. Roberts and nursing staff apologised to both families and each set of parents was offered counselling, the hospital said. The mothers were also being tested to ensure no infections were transmitted when they breast-fed the wrong babies, Roberts said.

"We deeply regret this mistake and will be reinforcing to staff the importance of abiding by hospital protocols at all times," the hospital said.

The parents were upset by the media coverage and did not want to give any interviews, the hospital said.

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