Safety

Baby abduction puts CA hospital in immediate jeopardy

Hospital Safety Insider, December 15, 2011

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Hospital Safety Insider!

Fourteen California hospitals have been ordered to pay fines totaling $850,000 in the latest round of medical errors involving immediate jeopardy to patients, state health officials said.

One of those hospitals suffered a security breach after hospital staff failed to prevent a newborn from being abducted from the mother's room, despite both mother and child wearing security bands that sound an alarm if the baby leaves the mother infant unit (MIU).

"A woman wearing scrubs entered the mother's room and told the mother that she was taking Baby A to do footprints," according to state documents. "Baby A's mother agreed to allow the woman to take the baby from the room." A nurse who later entered the room found the baby's bassinet empty and the infant's security band, which was intact, in the bassinet.

State officials said Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, in Santa Barbara County, had no security guard on the unit, and the facility "had no access control policy in place, i.e., a defined methodology of who can come, go, and how to limit access to the security-sensitive MIU." Also, state documents indicate that "nurses were utilized as the access control mechanism, but were not adequately trained and when busy could not account for visitors or the security of the unit."

Also, although the hospital had posted MIU visiting hours of 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., "the policy was not enforced. On the date of the abduction, the abductor was on the unit more than three hours before visiting hours were to start and was photographed by surveillance cameras" leaving with a large tote bag, but was not stopped or questioned. Also, the parking structure's attendant was not included in the personnel who were notified of an infant abduction.

"Fortunately, the abductor was unable to pay the parking fees before leaving the lot," and so the attendant noted the abductor's name and license plate number, which was used to locate the abductor and the baby later that evening. The hospital was fined $50,000. This was Santa Barbara Cottage's first penalty.

Source: HealthLeaders Media



Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Hospital Safety Insider!

    Hospital Safety Center
  • Hospital Safety Center

    Improve compliance with hospital safety standards from The Joint Commission, OSHA, and other regulators with this...

  • Healthcare Life Safety Compliance

    Created exclusively for healthcare facility managers, plant operations professionals, and directors of engineering, this...

  • Hospital Safety Insider

    Stay on top of hospital safety requirements and best practices with our free, fast-paced weekly update.

  • Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kit

    Total compliance has never been easier. This one convenient package contains everything you need to ensure your outpatient...

  • Basic Dental OSHA Compliance Manual Kit

    Total compliance has never been easier. This one convenient package contains everything you need to ensure your dental...

Most Popular