It’s an oft-fabled tale, that of babies switched at birth, but it can actually happen.

And it did to a pair of mothers in December 2012 at the Allina Health System’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Now, one of the mothers is seeking compensation for the event. 

In December 2012, Tammy Van Dyke of Apple Valley, Minnesota gave birth to her beautiful baby boy, Cody Stepp. But he wasn’t handed over to Van Dyke. Instead, he was given to another mother who breastfed him thinking he was her own child.

Appalled at the mix-up, Van Dyke and her lawyers are seeking $50,000 in compensation and are hoping the court will offer more for the emotional trauma of the incident.

Van Dyke’s suit states that the hospital had failed to properly care for her son at the maternity unit. There is no mention of the other mother who breastfed the wrong child or if she will also be seeking damages for the swap.

The hospital stated that staff was required to match the codes on the bands of the mothers and infants when handing over a newborn to prevent this very type of incident. But in this case, procedure wasn’t followed, leading to Van Dyke’s case.

Two months later, the hospital’s maternity unit put a new system in place to avoid accidents like Van Dyke’s in the future. They stated:

“We began using electronic identification bands for the mother and infant that must be matched when returning the infant to the mother. This helps us to assure that the identity of the infant and mother are matched each time.”

As for Van Dyke, she will be suing the hospital for the incident, which took place on December 5, 2012, for “unnecessary medical treatment, test and expenses, and severe mental injury and emotional pain and suffering.”

Van Dyke was quoted in a local news outlet stating of the incident:

“In good faith you drop your child off at the hospital nursery with the nurses. Never in a million years would you think this could happen or would happen.”

Though the outcome of the case is pending, the hospital did issue Van Dyke an apology letter for placing the baby in the wrong cradle.


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