Multiple Australian hospitals are under scrutiny for allegedly giving newborn babies to the wrong mothers, Yahoo! News reports.
Recently released public records from the hospitals, all in New South Wales, show at least seven baby-swap incidents over the past four years.
In each case, the babies were apparently given to the wrong women to breastfeed, but the mistakes were rectified before the newborns were sent home with the wrong families.
Stefanie Phillips, a 22-year-old mother who gave birth last year at Gosford Hospital, said the hospital staff informed her they accidentally gave her child to another woman to be breastfed.
Phillips told 7 News,
I was very overwhelmed. I'd just become a new mom. I didn't know what to say in that situation.
Fortunately, cases of newborn misidentification are “extremely rare,” according to NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner.
Though it's technically possible for a mother to transfer diseases to a baby through her breastmilk, Skinner said,
In the rare cases where an error occurs, immediate serological tests and breast milk screening are undertaken.
Mothers are also offered counseling services to help cope with the psychological trauma of nursing the wrong child, Skinner explained.
Nearly 100,000 babies are reportedly born in NSW public hospitals every year, and Skinner insisted there are "strict protocols" in place to avoid identity errors.
Some are calling for details about the specific hospitals involved, but so far officials seem resistant to the idea.