The KwaZulu-Natal health department has taken disciplinary action against staff members implicated in the switching of babies at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, Durban last month.
The incident happened three weeks ago, a week after the babies were born. Sadly one of the babies had since passed away but that had nothing to do with the alleged baby switching, the department said.
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Provincial health spokesperson Mdu Ncalane confirmed that the staff members had been disciplined but refused to disclose the punishment.
He said the department had acted after the incident was first shared on social media that a 17-year-old allegedly went home with the wrong baby when she was discharged from the hospital days after giving birth.
However, the young mother’s excitement was short-lived when she received a call from the hospital to return the baby as there had been a mix-up. A DNA sample confirmed that the baby was not hers.
Ncalane said the DNA test had to be done to ascertain which baby belonged to which mother.
He said the case had been investigated and disciplinary measures were taken against the implicated staff members.
“The matter is being treated with due care, sensitivity and respect especially because both parents are under 18,” Ncalane said.
He said although the department was prohibited by law from publicly divulging confidential clinical information, hospital management was in regular contact with the affected families and was available to address any points of clarity.
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“The hospital has offered to counsel both mothers but this has been delayed as the two wanted to focus on their studies as they were both busy with their examinations,” Ncalane said.
“It is important to note that the hospital delivers between 110 and 1 400 babies every month – the second highest in the country.
“The hospital is among those hardest hit by the [recent] floods which occurred around the same time as this alleged incident.”