A Tennessee couple are living through a nightmare situation after having given birth to a healthy baby boy in a Tennessee hospital. While in the hospital nursery, shortly after birth, the baby was mistaken for another newborn in the hospital nursery and was removed from the nursery for a frenotomy (a minor surgical procedure where the skin flap underneath the tongue is cut if the frenulum is too tight or too short, which may impair a newborn’s ability to breastfeed). The mother thought that her baby was being sent for a routine physical examination and she was beyond distraught when her baby was returned to her and the nurse casually mentioned that the surgical procedure had been performed on her son.
The physician who performed the surgery apparently has admitted his mistake. In a progress report contained in the medical record, the physician wrote: ” … I had asked for the wrong infant … I had likely performed the procedure on an infant different than the one I intended to … and I admitted my mistake and apologized.”
It is unclear how the physician made the mistake: there was no informed consent for the procedure signed by the parents; apparently the physician did not compare the newborn’s identification bracelet with the name of the intended newborn upon whom the physician was requested to perform the procedure; there is no indication that the physician and other medical providers involved with the procedure performed a “time out” just before beginning the surgical procedure, to insure that the proper patient and proper procedure were confirmed before beginning the procedure; there is no indication that the physician performed a physical examination of the newborn to confirm that he needed the procedure; and, the physician did not speak with the parents before the procedure.
The mother has described the harrowing incident: “essentially, they took our child who was a hundred percent healthy, nursing well, no issues at all and just took him out of the nursery and cut his mouth. At that point I began to cry hysterically.”
The parents have retained a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer to investigate their claim. The parents are concerned whether the procedure will have any future effect on their child’s speech and eating abilities.
Frenotomy is consider a minor surgical procedure that typically has a low risk for complications. However, complications from frenotomy can arise, especially if not preformed by a competent medical provider or not performed in a competent manner: complications such as hemorrhage caused by severance of the lingual artery, infection, and asphyxia caused by the released tongue falling back into the airway.
One study concluded, “Given the evidence currently available, we propose that frenotomy be viewed as a safe, effective, and practical approach to treatment of breastfeeding difficulties in infants with ankyloglossia [also known as tongue-tie, where an unusually short, thick lingual frenulum may decrease mobility of the tip of the tongue] in whom alternative explanations for poor feeding and failure to thrive have been properly assessed.”
If you suffered serious harm in Tennessee that may be due to medical negligence, you should promptly find a Tennessee medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a Tennessee medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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