A Tennessee woman is suing a hospital after medical staff mixed up two newborn babies, resulting in a surgical procedure being performed on a healthy child.
Nate Harper was born in December 2015 at University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee, reports WTVF.
When he was a day old, a nurse encouraged his mother, Jennifer Melton, to put him in the nursery so she could get some rest.
“The nurse brought our son back into the room and she began to explain the care process for the procedure that he had done while he was away,” Melton told NBC News. “I was like what are you talking about? What procedure? She called it ‘tongue clipping.’ I had never heard of it.”
Tongue clipping, or a frenulectomy, involves the cutting of a flap of skin beneath the tongue. It is conducted on babies born with restricted tongue movement, but Melton insists Nate did not require it.
“With a newborn, you’re excited and you just want to make sure everything is in order, and they’re nursing and feeding well. And he was,” she said.
Melton said she demanded an explanation.
“The in-room phone rings, and its the pediatrician explaining to me that he did in fact perform this procedure and that he had made a mistake, that he asked for our baby in error and that he was sorry,” she told NBC.
Hospital records show that the doctor owned up to his error.
“I had asked for the wrong infant. I had likely performed the procedure on an infant different than the one than I intended to and I admitted my mistake and apologized,” he wrote in a progress report, according to WTVF.
This was small consolation for Melton.
“I just sat there and I cried and cried,” she told NBC News. “They were completely reckless in what they did. They took my innocent newborn. He doesn’t have a voice for himself to say, ‘What are you guys doing? Not me, not me.’”
Clint Kelly, Melton’s attorney, said there was no excuse for the mix-up.
“We don’t know if the child will have speech problems or eating problems. The concern here is this was a healthy baby that was supposed to leave the hospital, but instead was harmed by the hospital,” Kelly told WTVF.