Nurses are Human

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Recently, a nurse made headlines for dropping a newborn, fracturing the baby’s skull. The parents, understandably upset, claim the nurse should have known better than to hold the baby if she was sleepy. As a labor and delivery nurse, here is what I wish I could have said to that mother, what I’m sure many of us would want to say to that family:

Accidently hurting your baby is one of our biggest fears. No nurse goes to work thinking they want to hurt someone. None of us leave our house thinking “I really want to make someone suffer.” There are a million and one ways a nurse can accidently do something wrong. And every day, all day, we are very conscious of this fact and we work hard to provide the best care we possibly can…even if we’re short-staffed, even if our assignment is difficult, even if every room is full. Even though we literally have twenty things to do at any given moment with a handful of different, complicated patients, we strive to provide compassionate care in a timely manner while struggling to chart every single action we take. We know we’re going to make mistakes….our only hope is that the mistakes we make do not cause harm.

That nurse made a lot of right decisions. I’m just keeping it real—but seriously, that nurse could have made a lot of other really bad decisions. She could have dropped the baby and not told anyone. Even though she was probably frightened and distraught that she had made an honest mistake, she chose to do the right thing and immediately get the baby evaluated.

A nurse’s mistake can have many consequences. No one is asking why the nurse had the baby in the first place. I would bet any amount of money that she was trying to allow an exhausted mother to get a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep. And although I do not agree with this practice, I’m sure her intentions were pure. What people who are not nurses do not understand is that our mistakes can have massive consequences. If we make a mistake, we can be peer-reviewed, which means our actions are brought before a committee to determine our nursing fate. We could lose our nursing license, leaving us unable to work or financially support ourselves or our family. If it’s deemed we were neglectful, criminal charges could be filed against us, and we could face hefty fines or even jail time. And our actions at work and at home are all up for examination and scrutiny.

That nurse is suffering right now. I don’t say this to diminish any anguish the family must feel that their baby was hurt while in the care of a healthcare provider. But wherever that nurse is right now, I promise you that she has been suffering. As I said before, no nurse goes to work wanting to hurt someone. She has had to endure being judged by her peers, questioning whether or not her facility would support her, and knowing that she caused a family distress. This is an incident that she will never forget, an incident that will probably taint her 30-year memory of nursing.

If you would have dropped your baby while in the hospital, the nurse would also be blamed. I don’t believe healthy mothers and healthy babies should be separated while in the hospital. I don’t believe a nurse should take a baby from a mother, even at her request, so that the mother can get uninterrupted sleep. This may not be a popular opinion, but as nurses, we need to see how these mothers interact with their babies even when they’re exhausted and sleep-deprived. But this leads to another issue….even if this mother would have dropped her own baby, the nurse and hospital would still be blamed. It would have been all about rounding and if it was documented that the nurse educated the patient not to sleep with the baby in the bed or if the room was free of clutter.  As nurses, we have to be everything to everyone.

Nurse-holding-head-in-hand-in-hospital

We are all human. As I drive to work tomorrow, I will think of the patients I will meet and care for. And as I walk through the doors of my hospital, I will think the same thing I have thought every single day since I graduated from nursing school: Just don’t hurt anyone. I know I will make mistakes. I’m human. But I hope I never make a mistake that hurts or kills someone. And that is a fear that lives inside of every nurse everywhere.

Until my next delivery ❤


82 thoughts on “Nurses are Human

  • July 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm
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    When I heard about that story, my heart ached first for the baby, and then for the nurse. I can imagine the anguish she’s going through, and I’m sure she feels absolutely horrible. People forget that health care professionals are human, too.

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  • July 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm
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    A horrible nightmare for any nurse as you noted, exacerbated by ridiculous Corporate guidelines for staffing ratios, mandatory OT and a blind ideology of care based on HCAHPS scores and not actual standards of care. There is an average of a 6 year waiting list for Nursing school. How many will see what is waiting for them and bail out?

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  • July 5, 2015 at 4:42 pm
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    Over 20 years of L & D nursing in my past, and dropping a baby was always my biggest fear. It never happened, but it is always on one’s mind. Floors that have been splashed with blood, amniotic fluid or even just water used in a delivery are extra slippery.
    Over 20 more years of nursing in recovery – always worried abut doing a med wrong, etc. It is a human doing the job, as has been pointed out. Humans make errors. It was not uncommon to work an 8 hour day shift, go home, get called in at 2230, end up there almost all night on call and still be expected to be back for the next day’s shift. If you called in sick (occ I did if I couldn’t stay awake) it was counted against you. Stress beyond what anyone in general public can even imagine.

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      • July 5, 2015 at 7:58 pm
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        That’s why as a Tech working on an L&D floor , I will not give the newborn a bath. My greatest fear is dropping someone’s wet , slippery baby! Bed bath on the warmer….,

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      • July 6, 2015 at 4:07 am
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        this nurse was sitting in a chair and fell asleep holding him…..nothing slippery there

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      • July 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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        Not to mention the multitude of cords hanging from the bed, looping to the floor that can be tripped over.

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      • July 8, 2015 at 6:06 am
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        As a mother and a former patient at this facility, I feel that how judgmental you people are being towards this young mother is just wrong! 1) the nurses there ALWAYS ask to keep the baby while you rest because it is hospital policy to do so. Therefore making it the nurses job If for ANY reason the mother is or feels incapable!
        2) the Reason I would send my child with healthcare PROFESSIONAL is so that I myself, would not drop my child or do harm, especially having not ever had a child before or the fact that labor takes a lot out of you! It’s very scary! And I damn sure wouldn’t be okay with anyone else doing it! So whatever HER reasoning was, the nurse had baby. there is no reason at all that any mother should have a doubt in her mind that her child is not safe in the hands of her healthcare provider! Nurses fault or not, accident or not, that hospital is accountable and I would sue! because of all of the unnecessary emotional distress, pain and suffering from not only me but my innocent child, and because I have every right to do so. because of the nurses “accident” and that hospitals negligence. and I could not imagine if there was any kind of permanent damage!! So no, I don’t care that you are all human. when your caring for my child, you are nurses first in my mind and accidents like that should never happen!
        And 3) if she was that tired, there were other (much safer ways) of feeding that baby! Example: she could have stood over the child’s nursery and fed him! Why on earth would she sit down?! Bottom line- no mother wants to see their child suffer, especially at the hands of anyone else and definitely not at the hands of her doctor’s/ nurses!! And she Should’ve never had to!! So shame on all of you! And may god be with that poor baby and child!

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        • December 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm
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          “I would sue because it’s my right”…. and people wonder why healthcare is soooo much more expensive here in the US… 😡

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      • July 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm
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        Erica, you are exactly the problem and that shows how uneducated of a mother you are, you can’t just stand over the child’s nursery and fed him! Infants are definitely not supposed to lay down while eating that’s how they choke so if she did it your way much worse could have happened. If you need to pass your kid off on the nurse after having them so you don’t “drop or harm” them, then maybe you just shouldn’t have one. I had my son with me almost the whole time after having him and refused to let the nurses feed him, I am the mother therefore it is my responsibility even right after child birth. So please climb off your high horse and stop thinking your so great, you too can one day make a mistake that harms someone and I hope you don’t get attacked the way you are attacking this poor nurse, She has probably saved more lives then you can count.

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      • July 11, 2015 at 12:52 am
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        Virago – you need to get off of *your* high horse. There is *nothing* wrong with a mother asking the nurse to take the baby to the nursery so she can rest after giving birth. Who the hell are you (or anyone) to say that she has to room in the entire time? No one can make that judgement since they have no idea what the mother went through during labor and delivery. What if she had an emergency c-section and she has to sleep off the anesthesia? What if she haemorrhaged and needs rest to recover? What if she is just plain worn out from bringing life into the world and would like to rest from that before taking her baby home and dealing with the sleep deprivation? It is almost sadistic to say that new moms shouldn’t be allowed to rest after giving birth just because *you* have a need to feel superior for your personal choices because you think it’s a competition. Get real lady!

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    • July 12, 2015 at 6:36 am
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      **It was not uncommon to work an 8 hour day shift, go home, get called in at 2230, end up there almost all night on call and still be expected to be back for the next day’s shift. If you called in sick (occ I did if I couldn’t stay awake) it was counted against you.** these lines remind me of the incident that my room mate experienced..after having 4 nights duty,and take note it was a 12-hour duty,she was about to collapse..on the 5th day,her supposed day off,the her clinical facilitator called her on her mobile and told her to go on duty again that evening..she refused..telling the cf that she was too tired to go to work and that day is her off so she would stay at home..the next day,she received a warning letter and she was questioned in front of the clinical facilitator,the director of nursing and the chief of nursing..and worst,she was told that she dont have any right to refuse anything..if the hospital wants her on duty,she should be there,no ifs,no buts..i just want to share that most nurses here are worked like and robots and expected to do their job without complain and mistake

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  • July 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm
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    Painful for the nurse and the baby. I am sure the baby wouldn recover, but the nurse will take longer from the trauma and stress. But, I would sue the hospital. They cannot have tired and exhausted people doing human critical jobs. Nursing as a profession should never be understaffed or under qualified. Thats just corporate greed taking over.

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    • July 5, 2015 at 11:14 pm
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      If the hospital is sued it will ultimately fall on the nurse personally. I very seriously doubt the hospital will take responsibility for the accident.

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      • July 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm
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        The hospital is actually being very supportive of the nurse. She worked for over 35 years with not a single incident and is in a bad way since this tragic accident. I’m sure there will be a law suit but the nurse was a very competent nurse.

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    • July 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm
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      You do realize almost every single one of your hospital staff Is probably running on little to no sleep doing critical jobs all day, everyday, right??

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      • July 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm
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        As a patient all we see are smiling faces from nurses and support staff. So its hard to fathom a guess that behind that smiling persona is someone who hasnt slept for over 20 hours. It scares me, my
        Life is dependent on people who themselves are in poor health. We all deserve better dont you agree? Hospitals cannot be run as not for profit and I get that, but certainly not this way either.

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  • July 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm
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    I agree with everything you said. My first thought about why this could’ve happened was why wasn’t the mother feeding her own baby? Hospital nurses defy everything known about good sleep hygiene and optimal working conditions every day. The miracle is these things don’t happen more often. We are encouraged to own up to our mistakes and then are blamed for not being infallible and preventing them. I am a retired L&D RN who misses my work every day but does not miss the work environment.

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    • July 5, 2015 at 10:58 pm
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      there could be many reasons why the mother was not feeding her own baby. Perhaps she was sick, perhaps her milk had not come in. perhaps no matter how hard she tried the milk would not leave her breast. The internet is a very judgmental place, please do not plant seeds that will harm the mother.

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      • July 6, 2015 at 12:05 am
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        Colostrum is there. Milk doesn’t “come in” for at least 2-3 days usually. Even still the mother should have that baby to breast as often as possible as milk comes
        In when there is a demand for It. More likely than naught, she was doing exactly what the OP stated, giving the mother a chance at rest. Even sick, a mother NEEDS to feed her infant. The amount of antibodies passed in her bodies attempt to fight the illness is profound. Unless she was on a medication that is known to pass through the milk and is harmful in this form, she should have been breastfeeding her own infant.

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      • July 6, 2015 at 3:04 am
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        The point is not whether a baby should be breastfeed or not. The point is not about whether that mother’s milk was in or not. The point is, the mother should have been feeding HER baby, bottle or breast, her choice, but one she should have been doing.

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    • July 7, 2015 at 9:36 am
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      Maybe, just maybe, there are other issues at hand where mom wasn’t able to feed the baby. Maybe she was so zonked from pain meds, that she didnt feel comfortable being left alone with the baby in case she fell asleep, and/or dropped baby herself. Maybe she was a section mom and anesthesia hadnt wore off yet. Maybe she was a blood recipient and nurses felt it to be wise to bring baby into the nursery. Maybe she was one of those new moms where everyone comes in to visit, not giving her time to rest, and this was the only chance she had. Maybe she was having issues with her breast milk coming in and was also going to supplement. I dont care how many of us work, or have worked, in L& D, the matter of fact is, we weren’t there, we dont know ALL of the facts. MAYBE it was time for the nurse to assess the baby, brought it to the nursery, assessed and fed baby and let mom sleep. Some of you spend so much time charting you forget about the patient and how they may be feeling!

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  • July 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm
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    As a 27 year veteran in a OB unit I have seen it all. As the article stated. The nurse never intended to harm the baby. I agree with the writer of this article. Once the baby is born, with the exception of procedures, the baby and mom need to stay together. And yes, I also think it’s important that they stay together because we need to see how the mom AND THE DAD adapt to this child in all situations. This means that new parents MUST accept to responsibility for this child and take care of your own baby. Sorry but entitlement needs to be put to one side. There is no such thing as complete rest when you have a baby. The parents should make arrangements between themselves on baby care in the hospital. We actually aren’t staffed to be nursery nurses anymore. That went out the window 20 years ago. In my opinion that nurse should have never been involved in watching that baby for mom. It’s really not her job to be fair.

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    • July 5, 2015 at 11:17 pm
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      so you do not want to give the mother a break? Some mothers have to go back to work within a week because the company they work for does not give them maternity leave. So instead of giving mom some much needed sleep time after who knows how many hours of labor after being up for who knows how many hours before labor started so she can get a fresh start before she goes home. How is she going to learn anything from you or the others in the hospital if she is sleep deprived? What if she does not have a support system at home? What if her husband works two jobs? What if she is a single mother because her boyfriend took off when she got pregnant and she has no family?

      then there is the other hand. what if the hospital does not allow the baby to stay in the room with the mother if she is sleeping? yest they are out there. I was in one of them.

      to state that it was not her job is not fair unless you work in that hospital and know their rules.

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      • July 6, 2015 at 12:33 am
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        Nurses aren’t baby sitters. We are supposed to help a family be a family to the best of our abilities. If the mother is exhausted, it’s my job to tell her support people to help her. If she doesn’t have support, I need to see how she’s going to handle waking up with that baby every 10 minutes. That’s my job. My job isn’t to baby sit a baby for the 24-48 hours a mother is in the hospital. And p.s. —my patients love me.

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      • July 6, 2015 at 3:13 am
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        Sure she can have a break. After she feeds her baby and puts it back to sleep. Just like she will be doing at home.

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      • July 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm
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        1. I work in a hospital as a nurse that takes care of neonates in an intensive care setting, not in this hospital. 2. I actually delivered my children at this hospital 20 and 17 years ago, my babies stayed in my room with me the entire time. They do not staff a nursery so moms, single or not, tired from labor or not, recovering from c section or not, breastfeeding or not, the babies should be in the room with mom. This RN meant no harm to the infant, she was probably going above and beyond for a family by trying to give the mom some rest. The family is entitled and litigious and want to earn a quick buck by the sad mistake of a seasoned and well respected nurse in that unit. They had no reason to call the news or the police, everything was being handled by the hospital staff and a transfer was arranged to assure the safety of the infant. She should just deliver her next children at home then she won’t have to worry about the carelessness of overworked and underappreciated nurses that by the way keep their patients, mothers and babies alive! I will guarantee there are absolutely no medical professionals in that family!

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  • July 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm
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    Thank you for sayin exactly what I was trying to put into words. I am a nursing student and I will be graduating in 6 months. I fully realize that we are nurses first and humans second it seems, so as humans we are bound to make mistakes but as nurses we aren’t supposed to. That is a scary thought. I’m glad to see the hospital back and support their nurse in this situation because in this day and age, that doesn’t always happen. It is a sad occurrence what happened and the response I have seen from people is mostly against the nurse, as though it were with malicious intent that she dropped the baby. We are bombarded in the news on a daily basis about parents lately that are abusing and neglecting their children. But this was an accident.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 12:10 am
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    All I can say is God Bless Nurses….. they have one of the hardest jobs and are not appreciated enough. This poor nurse will remember the rest of her life this nightmare and I pray for both baby and her.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 2:27 am
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    No one is punishing that nurse more than she is herself. I pray for her to have peace and the support from peers and her employer. It is an unfortunate situation. I pray for the child to have a complete healing. I pray that the parents will have forgiveness in their hearts.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 3:49 am
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    Reading this is so bizarre. When I had my first three babies in the hospital I had to fight, fight, fight to keep them with me! Nurses would say they weren’t staffed to monitor babies who weren’t in the nursery! With my first baby they brought them out for feeds only. They came to me and complained he was crying and wanted to give him a bottle but when I refused and said bring him to me, they wouldn’t. I was there six days after my section in 1973 and never saw my baby unwrapped until I got him home! And all you read was, You need your rest, you will lose enough sleep once you get home. With the next two I negotiated no separation plans, ( I had VBACS ), but even then nurses kept offering to take the baby so I could sleep. I had the rest at home. I had no idea hospitals had changed so much. It almost sounds as if you are rigid in the other direction. I wanted my baby with me. O matter what, but if I had needed sleep I certainly didn’t have anyone to help me my husband was a cook and had to be back to work and I had no family. And what do you do after a section? I had my section at 9 am and did nothing but sleep and ask for another pain shot until 9 pm when I timidly asked for my baby. Who takes care of the baby during that time?

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    • July 6, 2015 at 10:48 am
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      1973 vs 2015…..a lot has changed in health care since then. Please make educated statements when posting….or better yet, do not post at all if you do not work in health care and do not know hospital regulations!!!!

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      • July 7, 2015 at 2:40 pm
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        That was rude. She was just posting about her own experience.

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      • August 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm
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        I kind of agree, you are usually so fair but that is a but harsh! Just one lady’s experience : (

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  • July 6, 2015 at 4:05 am
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    the mother had not yet seen the baby to care for him before he was dropped….

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    • July 6, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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      That in itself does not even make sense. How is it a one day old baby, yet mom has never seen him! Mom should have seen and been taking care of him for the entire first day.

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      • July 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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        My son was born- and sent to a different hosptial. I didn’t seem him for 3 days. So

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  • July 6, 2015 at 5:14 am
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    As your dad, Shelly, I’m here to tell you that all accidents are preventable. Yes, we must adhere to this kind of thought or we’re going to allow them to happen because “we’re human and we make mistakes”. That said, I will try to explain the meaning to “all accidents are preventable”. It means you must take the environment in which you work in and interface it with the task at hand to insure a safe place for all involved. It can and should be done. And don’t worry I’ve never had a desire nor have the expertise to comment on any of your posts. But I couldn’t sit back on this one. Love you!

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    • July 6, 2015 at 5:56 pm
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      You can bet the internal facility communication will be abuzz with policy addendum or origination to prevent this from happening again. Lots of new paperwork to “fix” the problem. Our facility had a policy forbidding an infant from being carried in arms from one place to another. All infant transport had to be in the cribs. If an empty crib was in a hallway there was an alert for an infant abduction. I’ve seen several cases on the internet where a dad (Kennedy) tried to carry the baby outside and got in a world of trouble for violating the hospital policy. There is a reason for those policies and you don’t have to imagine too far past this article to see where they came from.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 5:16 am
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    When I had my son in January 2013 the last nurse we saw when being discharged almost dropped my 4 day old. I honestly don’t remember why she was even holding him. All I remember is seeing her carrying him, my infant flipping out of her arms and her catching him, upside down, against her body. I had an unwanted and unplanned c section and the fact that I couldn’t jump up and try to catch him was awful! I, along with the nurse, immediately started to cry. I was so grateful she caught him and felt so bad for her at the same time. I reported it just in case my son had a hip problem or something similar, but also asked that she not get in trouble. At 7 weeks my dad fell asleep holding him and dropped him on his head. Thankful he was fine! My heart goes out to the family, and nurse.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 5:52 am
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    I had my son by emergency c-section March this year, and I was entrusted with his care as soon as we were assigned a room. Hubby was there, but he works third shift (and so did I until 20 hours before baby arrived) so there was a lot of adjusting, but there was no offering to take the baby, and we managed fine, I’m so heartbroken for this nurse. I understand the parents lashing out from hurt, but that nurse has to be so heartsick – where is the help in heaping more guilt on her?

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  • July 6, 2015 at 11:49 am
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    While I can completely understand the emotional response from the parents, I too immediately felt horrible for the nurse. I can imagine that dropping a newborn is easily one of the top fears for nurses, as I am certain it is a top fear for PARENTS as well. Heck, ANYTIME I hold a newborn I have a fear of dropping it! I worked with the neurosurgery dept of a hospital and accidental head trauma to newborns WAS NOT exactly uncommon. There were often newborns being seen because either a parent or caretaker accidentally dropped the baby or the parent fell while holding the baby. Accidents happen. My husband slipped and fell down our stairs while carrying our newborn daughter- thankfully he was able to protect her during the fall (while injuring himself!)- but she could have easily been hurt as well. When my oldest daughter was 2, I slipped and fell down TWO stairs while holding her…and fractured her leg in two places!

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  • July 6, 2015 at 4:47 pm
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    As always, I just love your take on this! XOXO

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  • July 6, 2015 at 5:47 pm
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    A nightmare for every L&D nurse for sure. I worked on a unit that delivered 9,000+ babies a year. With that volume efficient and timely care is paramount. It seems like there are some details missing in this story and responses. My heart aches for both the parents/infant and the nurse who will truly never forget this horror. I took several measures when “catching the baby” to avoid dropping one. Still my middle son managed to hit the floor more than once during his first year thru beginner mistakes. I wasn’t a nurse til several years later but so sympathize with parents and professionals who experience the nightmare.

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  • July 7, 2015 at 2:36 am
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    Everyone should walk in a nurses footsteps for 24 hours…maybe then those that judge harshly would understand and be more empathetic to the most trusted professionals in the world…Gods speed to the baby and the nurse. Cheryl Lottti,MSN, RN a nurse for 35 years

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  • July 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm
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    This is why nurses should be allowed to have an allocated sleep/nap when they work night shifts.
    Working with Sleep deprivation is equivalent to working while under the influence.

    One of the best jobs I had as a nurse was in Toronto at Mount Sinai hospital in the ER where they added together breaks and meal times and encouraged you to sleep. Even a short nap can invigorate a person allowing them to give wakeful and safe care.

    Many errors in the hospital can be traced to lack of sleep… As many car accidents in mornings on way home from hospital … Surprised no hospital has been sued for responsibility in many of these cases.

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  • July 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm
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    I just read this in yahoo and all I can say is… Thank you!! I chose a birth center for my second birth and part of the reason I did was because I knew I wouldn’t be separated at all from my baby. Whether you’ve just pushed them out or it’s been a few hours, whether you’re exhausted or not, sick or not, bottle feeding or breastfeeding, being a mom is the job you signed up for after you became pregnant. Nurses are not babysitters!

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  • July 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm
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    I do know the woman and quite obviously there was no malicious intent and she is very sweet and knows very well how to do her job. I spent a lot of my life in Uniontown Hospital and they are quite frequently short staffed and lacking in a lot of resources and it also gets a bad reputation for the way it is run so I was genuinely surprised to find out that the hospital is actually backing up someone in a situation like this. Yes, they are stressed, and she shouldn’t have held the baby while so exhausted but they go in there every day just thinking about trying to get the job done and get it done well. Snide remarks will not rewind this situation, imagine if it was you.

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  • July 9, 2015 at 12:24 am
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    Only in the U.S. do we say, “Here’s your baby; fend for yourself.” We set moms up for failure, and enjoy it (as evidenced here).

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    • July 9, 2015 at 12:26 am
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      I’m sorry, but that is such an educated remark. I never said allow moms to fend for themselves. And btw, there’s a FAMILY taking care of that baby….very rarely is it just a woman with no support whatsoever.

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      • July 9, 2015 at 12:41 am
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        Yah, no, you pretty much did say that. “we need to see how these mothers interact with their babies even when they’re exhausted and sleep-deprived.” That’s the definition of fending for themselves.

        PS I am happy to hear I’m in the minority… My husband I had had just moved 1000s of miles away from family, had no friends in the area and he was overseas when I gave birth six weeks early to b/g twins via section. I’m SO eternally grateful for the nurses who acted like surrogate mothers not only to my babies but also to me.

        PPS I hold NO ill will toward the nurse in this article. I’m SURE she was doing her best, and we’re all HUMAN, so accidents DO happen. If I met her, I’d hug her.

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        • July 9, 2015 at 1:18 am
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          <3 seriously though, you are the minority. The problem, especially in the South, and especially in community hospitals, is that nurses with good intentions take the baby to a nursery for hours on end. I'm sorry you took it like that, but seriously…I never meant "fend for yourself." Seeing how an exhausted HEALTHY mother takes care of her baby is part of our job. If the baby is fussy, we should be showing her how to swaddle her baby. We don't have a magic wand in the nursery. We just swaddle the baby and keep it warm, and they basically sleep. Our job is to show our moms how to tend to their baby. If we see that their partner stays asleep next to her, we tell them —hey you, you have to wake up! she will need help when you guys go home. It's not just leaving the baby with the mom and saying "peace-out".

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      • July 9, 2015 at 1:53 am
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        I took your words at face value, assumed you meant what you wrote; my mistake (not really). In any case, we all view situations through our own personal lens. I didn’t have a support network, I know others who didn’t. That’s my lens. I had loving, caring, nurturing nurses who were my lifeline. So did fortunate others. Unfortunately, still others had nurses like you… Nurses who handle babies for a living but are eager to condescend (“we don’t have a magic wand”) to new moms who don’t have a clue. And what about hormones and post partum depression? It’s NOT just about swaddling and warmth. To simplify it to that level is so hurtful, and makes it that much harder for new moms to admit they need help.

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        • July 9, 2015 at 2:31 am
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          I’m not meaning this to sound ugly. This is the last air time I’m giving your comment. You are letting your negative view cloud what I’m saying. My magic wand comment was not condescending. I was being for-real. If you go to a nursery, all the babies are lined up sleeping. We can teach moms how to do that, even if for only a few hours. What’s the point of me watching your baby if you’re going home in 24-48 hours? You would rather be sent home without the skills to soothe, comfort, and quiet your baby?! I just don’t understand that. To say that new moms don’t have a clue—that’s the whole point!! We have to help them!! And hormones and PPD—EXACTLY. As a nurse, I have to see how you’re going to treat your baby when you’re tired. Are you going to ignore it? That would signal that we need to talk, or you need a social consult. Maybe we need to talk to your family. Seriously, people who want to find something negative in here will find it. But that’s says a lot more about you and your experience and it does about me and my nursing practice.

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      • July 9, 2015 at 6:21 am
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        Like so many others have said, give these moms (and dads) a chance to catch their breath. It’s NOT a crime; it’s humanity! And THEN teach them to swaddle. If an overworked nurse can drop a baby, what about a new mom who’s been awake just as long as that nurse, and has gone through childbirth? The nurse needs a break, but not the new parents?!? Isn’t the mom your patient too? Placing a bigger emphasis on swaddling over a few hours of sleep is beyond laughable. Frankly, it seems downright unprofessional. You can do BOTH without undermining their ability to parent in the future (shocking, right?).

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      • July 12, 2015 at 1:40 pm
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        Yes, the majority of moms are all by themselves.

        I have a wonderful husband but he can`t be there to help me with the baby at night in the hospital because there`s this little detail called OUR OTHER CHILDREN. And that`s how it is for most moms having their second and up.

        Also, you seem to think that single moms neither count nor matter. You may not like it but women do have babies out of wedlock these days. People like you see those moms punished by sleep deprivation. Oh well, those sluts should have married the father if they didn`t feel like staying awake four nights in a row after the birth should they?

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        • July 12, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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          I agree. The nature of life today is that people don’t live near family. Our family ( parents and siblings) live a couple of hundred miles away. Sure we had friends, but they have their own friends and family and jobs.

          I certainly don’t believe that it’s a nurses job to be a babysitter, and I don’t think any mother believes that during their hospital stay that they should not interact with their new child. I also think it’s completely fair to ask for the nurses to take the baby for a couple of hours so mom can rest and heal up. I did with my second- I had a late in the day c-section, and by the time I was cleared to head up to the mother baby unit it was nearly 11. I was exhausted, sore, and uncomfortable. They took the baby around 1 AM once we were all settled in and my husband headed home and kept her in the nursery for a few hours so that I could sleep off some of the pain meds and brought her back when I asked ( actually they were doing some required testing so they got me up and out of bed, to the bathroom, cleaned up and changed and when we were finished VOILA! the baby was ready). I think that allowing my a couple of uninterrupted hours to sleep creates a better opportunity for bonding with the new baby.

          It seems ridiculous that this nurse doesn’t believe she has any real role in caring for a new baby, or for the mother, and that its simply her job to “make sure she’s dealing/the family is dealing” That’s the sign of a nurse who thinks of nursing as “a job” and not as “a career” Ive dealt with both. The ” Career” nurses are leaps and bounds better, more caring, productive, and I’m willing to bet, better outcomes than those in the “Job” category

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  • July 9, 2015 at 12:38 am
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    I’m disgusted by so many aspects of this.

    I’m disgusted at how people are treating this nurse. She is human and of course she feels nothing but pain and guilt right now. It does not excuse her accident, but she should be forgiven, because she is human and I feel for the pain and guilt she is feeling right now.

    I’m disgusted at how this article and commenters are blaming the mother. Because mothers are also human, who should be able to entrust their healthcare provider with their children if they are in physical and/or mental distress after giving birth and feel that they could harm their own child and need to have them removed. That is not baby sitting, that is the duty of a nurse, to care and to provide safety.

    I’m disgusted by the person who said the other mother on this feed was a problem and shouldn’t have children (by standing over the nursery she did not mean as in feeding him lying down, she meant so that if she dropped him, he would only fall into the bassinet, pump your breaks on the accusations)

    No matter your personal beliefs, the nurse is human and mothers are human, if a nurse can be defended for cracking a babies skull on the job, a mother, after the trauma of birth, should not be forced or shamed into putting her own child in similar harms way. Be reasonable people.

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    • July 9, 2015 at 1:19 am
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      I can’t even finish reading your comment. How does my article blame the mother?!? It never fails to amaze me how people can read whatever they want into my words. p.s. you are in the minority.

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      • July 9, 2015 at 4:21 am
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        “I would bet any amount of money that she was trying to allow an exhausted mother to get a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep.”

        I think that’s the part in the article that seems like a bit of an assumption. And some of the other commenters have been quite mean.

        I think the problem is people are attacking the mom as a way of defending the nurse. Instead of attacking the practice of asking nurses to be awake for 20+ hours.

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  • July 9, 2015 at 3:59 am
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    Please let’s not vilify the mother in order to defend the nurse. We can support the nurse without making assumptions about the mother. I had to have a nurse feed my newborn baby because I suffered complications from my cesarean, and while I was fighting for my life, my son’s sugars dropped and they needed to give him formula until I was able to nurse him. If something had happened to my child during that time I would have been absolutely devastated, I couldn’t imagine my parenting being questioned in addition. I’d also like to add that the nurse that cared for my son was a huge blessing. She cared for him in those first moments when I could not and thankfully my child was safe and unharmed. I’m sure that was also the goal of the nurse involved in this case. Let us support her as well as the mother and her infant by demanding better for our nurses and our babies.

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  • July 9, 2015 at 4:45 am
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    I am a Nursery RN and a mother.my heart goes out to both the family and RN in this situation. Nap time for night shifters is not a good idea in my opinion, I would be more tired if I actually got to rest. Our unit is a traditional Nursery and hasn’t made the switch to mother/baby. We do encourage parents to keep their infant with them, but we also encourage them to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Yes they will have many sleepless nights ahead of them and they shouldn’t get used to having us “babysit”. Many of these parents have been in the hospital for many hours or days prior to their delivery. Many haven’t slept in 24 hours, both parents not just one. Once theses parents get a little rest, most of the time they take turns feeding or comforting the baby in their own room. Most nights in the Nursery we have 8-10 babies coming back and forth between feedings, or if they are bottle babies they may stay the whole night. Our families are very thankful for those short naps.

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  • July 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm
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    Nursing has changed over the years. Consumers of health care need to be aware of the way that hospitals are being rated. There are many organizations (breast feeding, etc) that advocate infants being with their mothers for 23 out of 24 hours. The amount of time that an infant stays in the nursery is tracked and goes towards the rating that the hospital is given. I am a nurse that works in a neonatal intensive care nursery. Dropping an infant has always and will always be the greatest fear that I have. As consumers of health care if you do not like the way that things are changing then you need to get involved and become vocal about what you don’t like. I feel for all parties involved in this situation.

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  • July 10, 2015 at 1:49 am
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    Thank you so much for writing this! True to the very last word.

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  • July 10, 2015 at 11:23 am
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    I am a nurse and I feel for both sides. I have made mistakes over my 20 years of being a nurse and it’s a horrible feeling. Thank god no one was ever hurt. When I was starting out as a nurse, I use to prey to god “please don’t let me hurt anyone”. It’s one of the biggest fear in a nurse’s day. Those mistakes I made also made me a better nurse today. I have learned to slow down during my day. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned to speak up when I’m not sure about a med or a procedure. Upper management can put a lot of pressure on a floor nurse.and they try to save money anyway they can. I have learned it’s my license that’s at stake. Not the hospital, charge nurse, or clinical manager. I know I have gotten off the subject . I can go on and on about health care today. The bottom line that nurse is mortfied, This is every nurse’s worst nightmare. I hope after all the emotions have subsided, that the baby’s parents will forgive this nurse and know that the parents worst nightmare was also that nurse’s worst nightmare.

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  • July 24, 2015 at 4:07 am
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    People have no idea what we really do! I bet if they come & observe us they will probably cry & run out… LOVE & RESPECT TO ALL NURSES OUT THERE. ,
    ICU REGISTERED RESPIRATORY THERAPIST SAN DIEGO

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  • February 15, 2016 at 6:31 pm
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    All mistakes cannot be prevented. A lot can. As a critical care nurse for over 30 years, I have been lucky…whatever mistakes I made were small and inconsequential. If I injured anyone, I know I would quit nursing at the very least, figuring I was no longer any good to anyone. It’s how we are wired. I liken it to having a “super hero” mentality. You live to continually pull off the impossible…a lifetime without mistakes. Make one and your world crumbles. There is no survival if you injure someone. It’s a really tough line to walk and if you don’t have the heart for it, walk away now.

    Reply

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