Doctor performs surgery on wrong newborn

Tennessee Doctor Performs Surgery On Wrong Newborn Baby

What should have been the happiest day of their lives turned into a nightmare for two Tennessee parents when their doctor performed surgery on their healthy newborn baby boy by mistake.

Jennifer Melton delivered a healthy boy, whom she named Nate, at the University Medical Center in Lebanonon December 16, News Channel 5 reports.

“The baby was perfect, healthy and beautiful,” Melton said.

Shortly after Nate’s birth, the nurses took him away for what the parents thought was a routine examine, which is a normal practice for newborns “checking blood-type, weight gain, that type of thing.” A couple hours later, Nate came back to Jennifer’s room where the nurses explained what had happened. Somehow, without the parent’s consent, the doctors performed an unnecessary surgery on Nate, thinking that it was another baby.

“At that point the nurse started to mention the procedure they had done that they had clipped his tongue,” Melton said.

Melton’s attorney, Clint Kelly, said the doctors performed a Frenulectomy, which is the cutting a flap of skin, called a lingual frenulum, from under the child’s tongue. The surgery is generally done on newborns when they are born with a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion.

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

“It’s so frustrating that a moment that should have been so happy and joyous for us was ruined with this event,” Melton told ABC News, adding that the doctor who performed the unnecessary surgery later called to apologize.

“I had asked for the wrong infant,” the doctor wrote in his progress report, Inside Edition reported, via MSN. “I had likely performed the procedure on an infant different than the one I intended to… and I admitted my mistake and apologized.”

“It’s recklessness. There’s no excuse for cutting on a healthy child. There’s no excuse for mixing up babies at a hospital,” said Kelly. “We don’t want another family to have to go through this.”

The hospital hasn’t commented on the wrong surgery directly, citing federal privacy laws. However, they did issue a statement saying they are “committed to providing quality care.”

“University Medical Center is committed to providing quality care to all of our patients and expect independent members of the medical staff to honor the appropriate directives of their patients and families,” Adam Groshans, a spokesman for University Medical Center, said.

“Due to federal privacy regulations, we are unable to comment on any specific patient,” Groshans added. “However, we can confirm that we take seriously any concerns brought to our attention, and those matters are reviewed pursuant to the hospital’s medical staff by-laws. If made aware of a concern, we promptly seek to address it and take action as appropriate to prevent any future concerns.”

The family is now concerned over how Nate will develop as he gets older. The Frenulectomy can possibly cause Nate eating and speech problems later in life.

“We don’t know if the child will have speech problems or eating problems,” Kelly said, adding that the family was also charged for the procedure, which was done without either parent’s consent, and they are preparing to file a lawsuit against the hospital.

“The concern here is this was a healthy baby that was supposed to leave the hospital, but instead was harmed by the hospital.”

[Photo via Shutterstock]