A mother whose newborn son was mistakenly turned over by maternity ward staff to another mother and breast-fed has sued the Minneapolis hospital.
Tammy Van Dyke, of Apple Valley, sued Allina Health System's Abbott Northwestern Hospital late last week.
The suit said the Dec. 5, 2012, mix-up led to "unnecessary medical treatment, tests and expenses, and severe mental injury and emotional pain and suffering."
In response, Abbott acknowledged the mistake, saying it appears the staff failed to follow procedure of matching codes on the infants' and mothers' identification bands.
Two months later, Abbott instituted a new procedure using higher-tech identification bands to avoid further mix-ups.
"We began using electronic identification bands for the mother and infant that must be matched when returning the infant to the mother," said Michelle Smith, who oversees Abbott's Mother Baby Center. "This helps us to assure that the identity of the infant and mother are matched each time."
The new system displays a green light to tell the nurse that the mother and baby match.
Allina spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell said Tuesday she's unaware of any such mix-up occurring at Abbott since the electronic bands started being used.
Van Dyke gave birth to son Cody Stepp on Dec. 3, 2012, and the boy was handed over to another mother in the center and breast-fed, the suit said. Cody was wearing three hospital ID bracelets with the proper identification on his ankle, according to his mother.
A few days after the late-night mistake, Van Dyke said that Cody and the other woman, who had given birth to twins, were given blood tests to make sure they were not exposed to any infectious diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV, that can be transmitted through breast milk.
All the tests were negative, she said — but Cody had retesting scheduled every three months for a year.
The suit seeks more than $50,000 and whatever other compensation a court might find proper for Van Dyke.
Her attorney, Wayne Jagow, declined to discuss specific facts of the case, but said they decided to sue after negotiations for a settlement failed.
"My client had no desire to bring herself into the limelight again by starting a lawsuit, but really had no choice as our statute of limitations was up," Jagow said in an e-mail. "We had attempted to get some sort of dialogue going with Abbott/Allina over the last year to handle this quietly and they simply refused."
Jagow also said Van Dyke was not told of any changes to procedures to prevent this from happening to other families.
"This has always been her primary concern," he said.