Staff at an Australian hospital has apologized to two families after it got two newborn babies mixed up on Friday.
The staff accidentally mixed up two newborns and gave them to the wrong mothers. The babies were breast-fed and taken care of by the mothers before the mistake was realized by a family member, the hospital said.
St John of God Hospital in Geelong, Victorian State blamed human error for the mix-up on Friday morning. The hospital's chief executive, Stephen Roberts, issued a press release saying that the two babies were taken to the wrong mothers after spending the night in the nursery. "There's been a breakdown in process. It appears that a name bracelet wasn't checked and the babies were placed in incorrect cots," he said.
Reportedly, no one noticed the mistake until Friday afternoon after the infants spent more than eight hours with the wrong families. A family member of one of the mothers noticed something was wrong and alerted the hospital staff. "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. "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. Meanwhile, Roberts and the hospital nursing staff apologized to both families. The mothers were also being tested to ensure no infections were transmitted when they breast-fed the wrong babies. "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 families were also offered counseling as Dr. Jennifer James, an expert on breastfeeding and human lactation from RMIT University, stated that the main worry in such cases is the distress the mothers have experienced. "The fact that they have been caring for, loving, cuddling, feeding someone else's baby. What's been happening to my baby? Why didn't I notice that I was caring for someone else's baby?" she said. "So there's a whole lot of emotional issues that would be going through their mind."
Dr. James added that the chances of the families taking home the wrong babies are rare as most hospitals have a clear protocol when someone is being discharged. “Before they walk out the door both name bands on the baby are checked with the mother's name bands and it's checked by two midwives and the parents," she said.