This month, a mother gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in a hospital in Lebanon. The nurse came in and the mother handed her the perfectly healthy baby for what she thought was a routine checkup, which the mother thought included weighing the baby or maybe checking his blood type. When the nurse returned, she proceeded to tell the mother about how well the surgery had gone. The mother was dumbfounded and shocked, as there’s no reason her baby needed a surgery.
It turns out, the baby had unnecessarily undergone a frenulectomy, which is usually performed when the flap of skin under the tongue is too tight and causes speech or feeding problems. This condition is present in roughly 5 percent of all newborns. The mother’s newborn baby boy, however, did not have the condition and was feeding perfectly fine. It turns out, the surgeon performing the procedure mixed up the infants and performed the procedure on the wrong baby.
Surgeon Performed Tongue-Clipping Operation on Healthy Baby
When the mother checked under her child’s tongue, she saw blood, and the baby’s face was damp from crying. The procedure is performed while the child is awake. Though the infant was given a local anesthetic, most newborns are uncomfortable during and after the procedure.
The doctor who performed the surgery called the mother in her room to apologize a few minutes after the baby had been returned to the now outraged mother. After a brief apology, he told the mother her baby would be “fine,” and that the baby “didn’t even cry that much during the surgery.”
As of now, there is no way to determine whether the baby’s future speech or eating habits will be negatively affected. However, the mother trusted the hospital and its medical professionals with her baby. She arrived at her doctor’s office and had a healthy baby boy, and within a few short days, left with the hospital having done harm to her healthy infant. This is every mother’s worst nightmare.
Doctors Need to Take More Care and Be Held Responsible for Recklessness
As if performing an unnecessary procedure on the wrong baby that could potentially handicap the newborn’s speech isn’t bad enough, the hospital proceeded to charge the parents for a procedure they did not consent to. The parents fully intend to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice against the hospital.
When doctors make careless mistakes at their jobs, the consequences to their patients can be catastrophic and life-changing. Doctors, especially those who handle vulnerable infants, need to make an effort to see patients as more than just numbers and charts. Patients are people, and no two are supposed to be interchangeable, as was the case with this situation.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:9-10