The injured babies suffered a fractured skull, rib, and arm while in the intensive care unit (ICU)
During the nine months before giving birth, mums-to-be prepare as much as they can. This includes doing their research in order to choose the best healthcare providers to help them on their journey. So it’s disheartening to learn that some doctors and nurses hurt newborns, even if this might happen unintentionally.
The most recent case of alleged malpractice occurred in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of UnityPoint Health-Meriter hospital in Wisconsin, USA. Reports say five newborns suffered severe injuries — skull, rib, and arm fractures — at the hands of one nurse.
The nurse, whose identity has remained anonymous, has since been suspended according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the staff of the 42-bed NICU spotted unexplained bruising on one baby’s arm on 2 February.
The following day, they found another baby with bruises on the arm and wrists. In both cases, doctors presumed it was because of tightly wrapped blankets or IV wires. But the next day, they found bruises on the baby’s face. A few days after that, they felt a lump on the same baby’s head. A CT scan then confirmed the baby had skull and arm fractures.
Further investigation later revealed two more troubling cases of neglect dating back to April 2017.
The hospital in question has enforced new safety measures, including security guards and CCTV cameras inside the NICU. Investigations are still ongoing.
Why do some nurses hurt newborns?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Critical Care, around 4.6% of infants deaths are caused by accidental or unintentional injuries.
Infants admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) are especially vulnerable. They are often newborns who suffer from breathing problems, cardiac disorders, infection, genetic problems, and premature birth.
Since they require gentler care, it is deeply worrying to learn about cases of abuse.
Abusive nurses sometimes don’t even think there is anything wrong with what they’re doing. Take, for instance, the two suspended Navy nurses who shared photos and clips of themselves ‘playing’ with babies — squashing their faces, flipping them off and calling them “mini-Satans,” all for a laugh.
There are even more disturbing cases, like that of Emiliya Kovacheva.
The Bulgarian nurse was pulling a 24-hour shift when she lost her temper. CCTV footage shows her biting and beating a four-day-old newborn. As of this writing, she has admitted to the malpractice and has been charged with attempted murder.
As a former nurse, I sympathise with the gruelling demands of the profession. But it is never right to take out your frustration on your patients, who have trusted that you have the necessary skills to care for them.
Signs of hospital abuse to watch out for
According to forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, not all of those who enter the healthcare profession are motivated by the goal of caring for others.
In article on Psychology Today, Dr. Ramsland claims that some become nurses to gain power or control over others. They are determined to “exploit the atmosphere of trust.”
In light of these cases, it’s absolutely imperative that healthcare institutions do thorough background checks on any potential employee:
- Do they have a history of psychological distress or incapacity?
- Have they been unstable or aggressive towards patients in the past?
- Have they been unable to effectively cope with the demands of the profession?
The popular saying “prevention is better than cure” doesn’t just apply to illness. By paying attention to the signs as early as possible, hospitals and clinics can stop medical malpractice in its tracks.
There is absolutely no excuse to hurt a helpless child — not even because of exhaustion or anger. As adults, it is our duty to rein our emotions in and to treat the little ones entrusted to us with the utmost love and care.