The surprised parents only noticed the baby was not their child after the mother had been dismissed from hospital and brought the boy home. They contacted the hospital straight away, and were soon reunited with their daughter, who in the meantime had ended up with the other new mother.
The incident took place in December at Santa Caterina Novella di Lecce Hospital, but La Repubblica reported on Monday that the girl's parents are now suing the ASL (the local health agency) for €50,000 in compensation. They have claimed that as a result of the shock suffered, the mother has been unable to produce milk since the mix-up.
This was confirmed the director general of ASL in Lecce, Valdo Mellone, who said the hospital was still trying to determine the cause of the error. “We have apologised to the parents, and we are evaluating where we made the mistake so that we can fix it. We have not been able to pinpoint the precise moment when things went wrong.”
He said such a mix-up had never happened before at any of the local hospitals, but added: “There is always a possibility for error. A distraction, a brief moment of confusion is all it takes for what happened in Galentina to happen."
Before being dismissed from hospital, the mother of the girl breastfed what she thought was her child. The baby should have been returned to the nursery afterwards, but the father asked if they could go straight home, as the mother had already been given permission to leave.
“The final check at the nursery, which would have brought the mistake to light, was missed out,” Mellone commented, adding that, to his knowledge, each child had the correct identification bracelet with their own name.
“However,” the doctor said. “We are working out the proper steps to take to ensure that something like this does not happen again. We are extremely sorry.”