Advertisement
Doctor Operates on the Wrong Child

Doctor Operates on the Wrong Child

A newborn in Tennessee had an operation to correct a “tongue tie.” Except for the procedure being performed on the wrong baby, things went well. According to reports, a nurse came into the mother’s room and took the baby. The mother assumed that the child was having some routine nursing care and was understandably upset when the nurse returned and said the baby was fine after the operation. The frenulum is a fold under the front part of the tongue [see photo of a normal frenulum]. When it is too short, tongue tie results. It can cause immediate problems with feeding and with speech and alignment of the teeth later in childhood. The surgery is usually done without anesthesia and consists of simply cutting the shortened frenulum to release the tongue. This link from Stanford University has before and after photos of a newborn with tongue tie. Tongue tie is common, occurring in 4% to 10% of babies, and serious complications of the corrective surgery are extremely rare. How could this mix-up have happened? It appears that the doctor accidentally sent for the wrong patient. The nurse who fetched the baby either did not ask anyone why he was having a procedure and/or did not know the baby’s history very well. Before starting any invasive procedure in most hospitals, a “timeout” is done. It consists of a checklist with the following: 1) the correct patient is confirmed by using at least two separate identifiers; 2) the procedure to be done is agreed upon by all participating medical personnel; 3) a consent form signed by the patient or a legal...
[ HIDE/SHOW ]