Best Practice for Guarding Against Infant or Child Abduction in Your Hospital

Accreditation Monthly, March 9, 2005

Dear Colleague,

Unbelievably perhaps, and tragically for sure, between 1983 and 2002 there were 113 reported cases of infant or child abduction from healthcare facilities in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

These abductions occurred at hospitals of all sizes and in urban to rural communities alike. And while this number is a small percentage of the nearly 4.3 million births taking place in over 3,500 facilities each year, and it is reported that 95% of those abducted were eventually found safe and returned to their families, each of the 113 episodes was obviously a sentinel event with devastating consequences to the family and child-and to the healthcare organization.

JCAHO released a Sentinel Event Alert on this subject in April 1999 and retains unwavering emphasis on the issue in EC standard 2.10, EP# 8 which reads:

"The hospital identifies and implements security procedures that address handling of an infant or pediatric abduction, as applicable."

This element of performance is a "B" element-meaning hospitals should design their response to the element using the principles of good process design-and notably among the principles is the consideration of current best practices. In this regard, there is no better resource in my opinion than the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The center has posted at its Web site a 92-page book, For Healthcare Professionals: Guidelines on Prevention of and Response to Infant Abductions, and a self-assessment tool that together serve as a worthy foundation for your infant abduction prevention and response plan. The book, now in its 7th edition, has kept pace with advances in what has proven effective as prevention and response strategies.

Organizations that have based their current plan on an older edition of this resource or who perhaps designed their plan without the assistance of guidelines from an external source, may want to visit this Web site to obtain these materials and conduct a fresh risk assessment and gap analysis of their infant abduction prevention and response plan.


John Rosing
Senior Consultant
The Greeley Company

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