Don’t Steal a Baby

Don't Steal a Baby - NewbornAfter our daughter Arya survived her tough birth, my wife and I were hesitant to let our newborn out of our sight. Thankfully our baby was healthy and the medical staff performed only limited procedures on her before my wife and I got to hold her.

We were still concerned about someone kidnapping our daughter since dozens of patients and hundreds of staff and visitors had access to the baby wards. The nursing staff assuaged our fears by explaining why it would be hard to steal a baby from the hospital.

Tufts Medical Center, like all modern American hospitals, uses a infant security system to prevent anyone from stealing a baby. The picture above shows the security strap placed around Arya’s ankle when she was less than two hours old. The hospital staff secured the ankle monitor to our baby as soon as we got to the Mother-Infant Unit following delivery.

The security strap has an embedded sensor which is programmed to set off an alarm and lock down the entire unit if it is removed from the secure ward. Every baby is equipped with a unique tag and all parents are given a matching tag. Before newborns are transferred from parents to the nursery or from nursing staff to parents, the identifier number on the baby’s tag must match the identifier number on the parent’s tag.

The security system has additional layers of protection. At Tufts, parents are instructed to only give babies to staff who wear a pink name tag. Presumably pink name tags are only distributed to staff members who work in units responsible for infant care.

Every baby security tag has patient information in addition to the unique identifier number. In the unlikely event a newborn were to be successfully extracted from the secure ward, any hospital staff member who notes the security tag would certainly become suspicious.

We have evidence that the security system works well. Just before we were discharged from the hospital our nurse cut off our baby’s ankle tag. Immediately alarms went off throughout the unit and the doors automatically locked. Our nurse had accidentally set-off the lock-down procedure by cutting off the security tag before discharging Arya on the computer.

Once our nurse discharged us on the computer and cut off all the tags for myself, my wife, and our baby, she asked if we wanted to keep them as a souvenir. In the flurry of activity surrounding our discharge from the hospital we might have forgotten to keep the tags without her suggestion. So now we have a cute memento of Arya’s birth at the hospital and clear evidence of why you should not steal a baby.

Don't Steal a Baby