It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – their baby is accidentally given to someone else in the maternity ward. But that’s exactly what happened at a Melbourne private hospital.
Mum Samantha Stuhlener says she’s distraught by the bungle at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, and has found it difficult to bond with her baby since the incident.
She was recovering in her room after the birth of son Levi when a nurse wheeled in a baby boy in a cot, saying he was due to be fed. “He was settled, so I never breastfed him,” Ms Stuhlener tells Radio 3AW Mornings. “About 45 minutes later, another nurse came in and took the bassinet out of my room.”
It was only then she found out the baby wasn’t Levi. “I said, ‘What’s happened, what’s going on?’,” Ms Stuhlener tells Seven News. “And (the nurse) said, ‘You didn’t have Levi, you had somebody else’s baby’.”
Both babies had identification wristbands, but they weren’t cross-checked when the cot was moved from the overnight settling room. The baby wasn’t taken out of the cot, fed or changed while with Ms Stuhlener. The hospital told Ms Stuhelener Levi remained in the nursery throughout the 45 minutes, but she and husband Nick are demanding to see a full incident report to check. “Was he with another mother? I don’t know,” Ms Stuhlener tells Seven News.
“My son was only six hours old and there’s 45 minutes where I can’t account for where he was – that’s very traumatising as a mother,” she tells 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. “I want to ensure that this isn’t going to happen to another mother.”
Ms Stuhlener says she’s been in touch with the other family, who are also “traumatised”. She says Levi, her second child, was unsettled for several weeks after the January mix-up, and she has had trouble breastfeeding. In a second mistake, explanatory letters and vouchers for both families were also sent to the wrong addresses.
St Vincent’s chief executive Ian Grisold has apologised for the incident, branding it a “very upsetting mistake”.
“I’m sad that this has upset the family,” he tells 3AW. “I just want to point out that at no time was the baby removed from the cot, both babies were correctly labelled at all at times and Levi was in the night settling room as per the incident report that we shared and documented. We’ve unreservedly apologised for the stress and anxiety we’ve caused the parents.”
The hospital has tightened procedures so that two staff members must now cross-check both the mother’s and baby’s name tags when moving newborns to and from the nursery.
(Images via Seven News)