MOH to find out how baby mix-up happened

SINGAPORE - In the wake of the baby mix-up, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told The Straits Times yesterday that he was very concerned that such an incident could happen.

On Sunday, two sets of parents were given the wrong newborns to take home from KK Women's and Children's Hospital. The accidental switch was discovered only when one of the couples later checked the infant's ankle tags.

Both babies were reunited with their real parents the same day.

Mr Gan said he took a serious view of the mix-up and had directed staff at the Ministry of Health (MOH) to find out how it could have happened and work with the hospital to make sure there are no more similar lapses.

"Our public hospitals must provide a safe and reassuring environment for our patients," he said. "My thoughts are with the parents as they must have gone through a very traumatic time."

Mr Gan added that the ministry will also work with other hospitals "to ensure that staff are reminded of the necessity to adhere strictly to protocols".

Dr Ivy Ng, chief executive of SingHealth, the public health cluster that includes the hospital, said the mix-up should not have happened and must not happen again.

"It is a basic responsibility of our staff to adhere to these (protocols) at all times," said Dr Ng, who headed the hospital before being appointed to her current post in January.

"Mistakes happen when we are not vigilant. KKH's management team has my full support as it investigates this incident."

A spokesman for the hospital said it was monitoring staff closely to make sure identification tags were being checked and standards adhered to in the wake of the mix-up. It has remained in close contact with the parents of both babies, who have requested confidentiality and privacy.

Mr Patrick Tay, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said: "We should use this incident to examine if current practices suffice and whether there are other safeguards to reduce human error."

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