Health

Hospital Operated On Healthy Baby Due To Infant Mixup, Mom Says

| by Karin Sun
baby Nate baby Nate

A Tennessee mother said she is shocked and furious after doctors performed unnecessary surgery on her healthy newborn after reportedly mistaking him for another infant.

Jennifer Melton gave birth to her healthy son Nate at University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee, according to CBS affiliate WTVF. Soon after his birth, Melton said, Nate was taken for what she believed was a routine physical exam.

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When the nurse returned the infant two hours later, however, Melton realized something had gone terribly wrong.

"At that point the nurse started to mention the procedure that they had done that they had clipped his tongue," Melton told WTVF.

"Essentially they took our child who was healthy from the room and cut his mouth," Melton continued. "At that point I began to cry hysterically."

The woman's attorney, Clint Kelly, said doctors had performed a frenulectomy on Nate, meaning they cut a flap of skin under his tongue. The procedure was meant to be performed on another infant who was born with a condition in which the mobility of his tongue is restricted.  

"There is no excuse for operating on the wrong baby, none," Kelly said.

The doctor who performed the procedure on Nate has since admitted his mistake and apologized, according to a progress report from the hospital obtained by WTVF.

The infant's family, however, is concerned about the long-term impact the surgery would have on their son.

"We don't know if the child will have speech problems or eating problems," Kelly said. "The concern here is this was a healthy baby that was supposed to leave the hospital, and instead was harmed by the hospital."

University Medical Center declined to comment on the mixup when contacted by WTVF.  

A recent study has shown that using more specific names to identify newborn babies in hospitals reduces wrong-patient errors by 36 percent, CBS News reported.  

Sources:  WTVF, CBS News / Photo Credit: WTVF, Health Management Associates via Nashville Public Radio