Hospital Gives Moms Wrong Babies to Breastfeed

newborn baby feetClearly the Australian hospital that accidentally switched two newborns and didn't realize it until after both babies had already been breastfed by the wrong moms made a huge mistake. No way around that one. But was the incident a "terrible tragedy" as the hospital's CEO is calling it?

I think a better term for the mix-up would be a near-tragedy. Because, assuming none of the babies or mothers involved contracted any illnesses from said mismatched nursing sessions, this wasn't really a tragedy. But the fact that a nurse forgot to check the infants' name bracelets could easily have led to something truly tragic happening.

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Human beings are not perfect. Tired nurses working the overnight shift in a maternity ward are not perfect, new moms who are so bleary-eyed that they can't distinguish one wrinkly, red-faced newborn from another are not perfect. We all make mistakes every day. Some mistakes seem to have no consequences; others seem to have a disproportionate amount.

However unintentional this nurse's blunder, it's a miracle it didn't end up qualifying as one of the "Worst Possible Mistakes Anyone Could Ever Make." What if the babies had gone home and grown up with the wrong families? What if one was born with a life-threatening condition and the other was treated for it? What if one baby was fed formula he was severely allergic to? Mixing up two newborns is a colossal screw-up. So the babies got to sample a new flavor of breast milk at one feeding? Big deal! It could have been so much worse!

Again, I'm not saying that the nurse did nothing wrong. She did! But thankfully, her mistake did not turn into a tragedy. Phew! Crisis averted! Let's all be happy for these lucky babies!

Do you think the newborn mix-up was a tragedy or a near-miss?


Image via "G"/Flickr

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