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Abbott Hospital gave newborn to wrong mom, who breastfed baby before mixup was noticed

Abbott says yesterday's baby mixup is unprecedented. The mother says the error left her emotionally distressed.
Abbott says yesterday's baby mixup is unprecedented. The mother says the error left her emotionally distressed.
Image by Tatiana Craine. Baby photo from Seattleye's Flickr.

An Abbott Northwestern Hospital spokeswoman vows "there will be consequences" after a baby boy was given to the wrong mother and breastfed before the mistake was discovered.

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"As far as we know, this has never happened before at Abbott," spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell told the Star Tribune, adding that the hospital has "policies in place to prevent this sort of thing."

O'Connell told the Strib all moms and newborns are given matching wristbands. Hospital staff are supposed to cross-reference the wristbands "at every step," but something went awry in this case.

A WCCO report includes an interview with Stacy Engebretson, sister of the mother whose baby was given to the wrong woman. Engebretson told 'CCO the mistake occurred early yesterday. From WCCO:

After the mistake was realized, both mothers and Engebretson's nephew had to undergo blood testing for HIV and hepatitis.

Engebretson said her sister Tammy Van Dyke bottle feed her baby [sic] and has suffered emotional distress, beyond the physical implications.

Abbott Northwestern issued Tammy a letter of apology and an admission of negligence, which stated the babies were put in the wrong bassinets.

As we told you about in March, a similar mistake occurred at Virginia Regional Medical Center earlier this year. In that case, the hospital said it was in the process of installing a digital baby-mother matching system in order to prevent human error from allowing another baby mixup to occur.

It's unclear whether Abbott is considering systemic changes in the wake of yesterday's incident, which the hospital says is still under investigation.


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