On Wednesday, a newborn baby, who was declared dead and placed in a coffin, was found to be alive in a refrigerated morgue in Buenos Aires. The infant, Luz Milagros, had spent 12 hours in the coffin after the Perrando hospital workers gave her up for dead, The Associated Press reports.
The infant’s mother, Analia Bouter, insisted on seeing the body of her daughter before leaving the hospital. When the drawer holding the infant was opened, the mother could hear her daughter whimper. Bouter and many others are now asking how a hospital could make such a grievous mistake.
Luz Milagros was born three months premature and with no apparent vital signs, according to Jose Luis Meirino, the hospital’s medical director. Doctors gave Bouter the death certificate only 20 minutes after the infant was born.
While no one is certain as to how Luz Milagros was declared dead while still living, one theory is that the doctors didn’t expect the baby to live, so they declared the infant dead in advance. Infants born so early “aren’t considered to have much of a chance” in many parts of the world, explained Edward Bell, a University of Iowa specialist in premature infants.
Bouter may wish to sue the hospital for medical malpractice. In the U.S., medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional’s negligent act or omission causes harm to the patient. Negligence by a medical professional can include an error in diagnosis, treatment, or illness management. When the defendant is a hospital, the court often looks at the employee training, safety precautions, and standard of care employed by the hospital.
If Analia Bouter brings a medical malpractice suit against the hospital, the court will likely look at the policies the hospital has in place to safeguard against such incidents, and how they stack up against the policies of other hospitals in the country.
The hospital has suspended five medical professionals, pending an investigation into why the infant was declared dead. Luz Milagro, who is in critical condition, is currently on a ventilator being treated with antibiotics.
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