“There is a significant chance that the hospital will be sued when an infant abduction or mother/baby mix-up
occurs. In the author’s experience, legal claims are usually based on two separate theories. Most cases involve
a hospital’s duty to take reasonable actions to prevent foreseeable harm to those in its care. But parent also
sue for a hospital’s failure to officially identify an infant—through footprints, photographs, DNA testing, or other
means—between birth and abduction, resulting in parents’ inability to recover their child. Even when a child is
recovered from an abductor within hours or days, authorities cannot return the child to its parents unless it is properly
“In cases involving hospital security, the plaintiff will allege that by not providing adequate security or properly matching
the baby with the mother, the defendant hospital was negligent and in gross disregard of the safety of infants delivered in the hospital. The plaintiff also
usually alleges outrageous, wanton, and reckless conduct by the defendant, claiming that the hospital knew or should
have know that its lack of security and protocol endangered the rights, safety, and lives of newborn infants.”
“The author has testified in many abduction cases where hospitals were able to minimize damages or escape liability
altogether by showing that reasonable security measures were in place.”
Protecting Hospitals Against Infant Abductors, “Security Management Magazine”, May 1995,
p61-64 Author: Geoffrey M. Aldridge, CPP
Risk management is a discipline and process that aims to protect the healthcare oranization by reducing the potential
and exposure for financial loss before it occurs, and avoid or minimize the effects of litigation should it occur. An effective
risk management plan is proactive and translates into lower liability exposure, avoidance and/or mitigation of litigation expense,
and lower insurance costs.
Prospective patients and families are increasingly evaluating hospitals, not only for the quality of care the
hospital provides, but now, more than ever, hospitals are being evaluated on the level of protection provided
the patient and their love ones during their hospital stay. With this in mind, it becomes increasingly essential
for healthcare providers to offer state-of-the-art security to protect their patients, visitors, and staff as well
as providing protection for the facility from increased litigation.
Hospital employees are frequently placed in positions of significant risk because the population is largely female,
the work is performed 24 hours a day, and the employees enter and exit the facility at all times of the day and night.
Should an incident occur, it will usually be alleged that the hospital knew, or should have known of the risks on its
premises, and that it has an obligation to make its premises reasonably safe.
Infant abductions, as well as mother/baby mix-ups cost hospitals a large amount of money in terms of legal fees
and settlements after an abduction or mother/baby mix-up has occurred. The plaintiff will usually bring suit based
on emotional stress caused by negligent custodial care provided by the hospital.
Post abduction assistance is available from SAI for facilities that are victims of security Sentinel Events. The
Root Cause Analysis is reviewed and evaluated to identify mitigating factors that may reduce a hospital’s potential liability.