In a scary hospital mix-up, a four month old baby was given the breast milk of an HIV carrier instead of the milk pumped for him by his own mother.
The incident happened at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva – a hospital that just received accreditation from the Joint Commission International. This prestigious international accreditation only goes to hospitals that can prove they are able to meet rigid standards of quality and patient safety. Sadly, mistakes do happen, and this one was initially reported by a local television station.
According to the news source, parents are not able to access the refrigerator in which pumped milk is stored, so a nurse handed the infant’s mother a bottle of pumped breast milk to feed her son. Unfortunately, it wasn’t after until she’d started feeding him that she noticed that the name on the bottle wasn’t her son’s. She immediately alerted hospital staff.
Tests on both women were conducted; the results would be shocking for both the mother of the accidentally fed milk and the mother to which the milk was given. The woman whose milk had been accidentally fed to the infant was an HIV carrier – something she had not known until after the testing.
Under the advisement of experts in infectious diseases, the hospital immediately started preventative treatment for the infant. It resembles the same treatment that is given to rape victims and medical staff that may have been exposed to the HIV virus. It will be given for several months, and, according to a hospital spokesperson, it “significantly reduced the chances of contracting the virus, and is particularly effective [when given] soon after the date of exposure. This treatment is given in situations where it’s still impossible to know for sure whether infection has occurred.”
Yet, despite the preventative treatment, the hospital seems relatively certain that this mishap won’t result in an infected baby.
“The chances of contracting the virus from a one-time feeding with a carrier’s breast milk are negligible,” a spokesperson from the hospital told Channel 10. “We don’t know of a single case of infection with the virus after a one-time feeding with an HIV carrier’s breast milk that has been described in the international medical literature.”
In addition to the course of action being taken, which will also include testing the infant regularly to watch for any signs of potential infection, the hospital extended their apology to the mother, saying that it “deeply regrets the error and is conducting a comprehensive investigation in order to prevent a recurrence of this incident.”
They also added that they have reported the incident to the Health Ministry, which was confirmed by the ministry itself.
I can’t even imagine how either mothers must be feeling right now – one being a carrier of the virus and knowing that she has exposed her own child as well as someone else’s, the other being concerned about her baby’s health and future. Doctors may be telling her all the things that they have told the public, but I somehow doubt she truly hears them and it is my guess that she’s grappling with several emotions all at once. I hope the best for both moms and their babies.
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