Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Preventing Hospital Baby Abductions

From what I have read, I think I am all for this idea. My first baby stayed in the room with me the entire time I was in the hospital. The second and third babies spent time in the nursery. I did wonder if someone would be able to sneak in and pick him up. I think there was always a nurse in the little nursery room with the baby. I don't have a problem with extra safety precautions. I would like to know how often babies are abducted from hospitals. I assume it isn't common, but who knows!

FROM ABC: Call it a homing device for babies. A Nebraska hospital now uses a special chip to keep track of newborns and prevent possible abductions. Bellevue Medical Center is making sure only the right people take babies through hospital doors. They do it by attaching a tracking device to newborns umbilical cords.

So far new mothers seem to like the idea. Once a newborn like baby Brielle is done saying hi to mom, nurses tag her with this new device. Hooked to the tag technology that sends out a radio frequency able to show where the infant is. It shows what room and if she is on the move. The security is meant to stop child abductors in their tracks. If someone unauthorized takes the baby out of one of the maternity ward doors the tag will automatically lock all exit doors near the baby. Martina Niemeyer says Brielle is her fourth child.

And she says she likes the new tags better than ankle tags that can fall off. Nurses say the tags don't hurt the baby in any way.
And it takes a special instrument to take them off. Nurses will do that right before Brielle's approved to head home and find her three older siblings waiting, anxious to meet her. These devices are only used while at the hospital. Since the babies are tracked through radio frequencies they can't be located on GPS.

Shelli Dankoff at OSF St. Francis Medical Center emailed me the policy put in place to prevent abductions there. It is listed below. Methodist Medical Center's Duane Funk says Methodist has a similar policy, but does not release details about it for privacy reasons.

AT OSF Saint Francis Medical Center we have several procedures in place to prevent abductions.

Immediately after a baby is born, an infant security system is attached to their umbilical cord. (If the baby ends up being a patient past the point of their cord falling off, the device is moved to his/her ankle). Within the device is a transponder. If someone attempts to carry the baby outside the doors of the Family Birthing Center an alarm sounds. This alarm is heard at all nurse stations in the Family Birthing Center and alerts Security. Each nurse is assigned a door to monitor at the start of each shift. If an alarm sounds, staff would man their pre-assigned door – including stairwells – watching for suspicious activity. There is also someone who counts all of the babies in the unit if an alarm sounds to see if they are all present and accounted for. The Unit Secretary can also send a mass page throughout the Family Birth Center telling staff to man their doors. Security sends an officer to the floor if the alarm sounds.

If in fact it is determined that a baby has been taken from the unit a Pink Alert would be issued throughout the Medical Center. Similar to the procedure in place on the unit, there is staff throughout the hospital pre-assigned to monitor doors and hallways looking for the baby. At this higher alert stage, Security would call the Peoria Police Department to respond.

When a baby is brought to his/her mother from the nursery, their ID bracelets are matched exactly before the baby is ever left with an individual. This happens every time the baby is brought to the mother’s room and is an added security feature. The Patient Care Manager who provided this information has been at Saint Francis 21 years and there has never been an infant abduction during that time.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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