According to Talon Medical Limited, 28,000 babies are switched at birth each year. That is seven babies per every thousand that are born. Incidents like these are usually solved before the parents leave the hospital. Hospitals are trying to incorporate new procedures to prevent mix-ups like these from happening.
One method of prevention from switching babies at birth is employed by doctors giving babies bands with the name of their mother, gender, time of birth, and medical record number. Some hospitals include footprints or finger prints. These bracelets are placed on a baby’s wrist and ankle. Hospital employees note that this form of identification not only prevents from switches but it also prevents from abductions. If a family member is not wearing a matching wristband, they are not allowed to hold the baby.
Mothers are advised against leaving their babies alone. If they have to take a shower or use the bathroom, doctors want mothers to leave the baby in the room with a family member with a wrist band or take them to the nursery. It is rare for a nurse to return a baby to the wrong mother because of the identification band. A switch that took place in Virginia left local hospital administrators to wonder if the switch was performed on purpose.
A nurse manager of the neonatal special care unit and newborn nursery at White Plains Hospital Center commented on the event saying, “It’s hard to believe something like this could happen. It just shouldn’t happen with the system…”
Being switched at birth is uncommon, but stories like these cause new parents to worry about the safety of their newborn baby.