GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A newborn was given the wrong medicine at a hospital in Greenville. His mom is trying to make sure it won’t happen again.
Jaxson was born six days ago at Corewell Health United — previously called Spectrum Health United — to 27-year-old Kendra Powell of Crystal. Her pregnancy was induced a month early because she had cholestasis, a liver condition that happens late in pregnancy and can lead to complications.
Jaxson had some breathing problems at first and was hooked up to an IV. He was supposed to be given dextrose to raise his blood glucose, Powell said.
Instead, a nurse accidentally hooked him up to an oxytocin IV drip, meant for Powell, medical records show.
“All of the sudden the nurse yelled, she’s like ‘Stop the IV, stop the IV.’ And everybody just kind of looked at her and didn’t do anything … so she ran over, and she stopped it. She just pulled the IV,” Powell said, noting no one told her what went wrong at first.
“I’m panicking at this point because I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “Eventually I asked, and my nurse said she didn’t know because she wasn’t in the room, she was getting me Tums. … I asked the other nurses and they just completely ignored me and walked out of the room.”
Eventually the pediatrician told her Jaxson had received oxytocin, which was meant for Powell. The medication is used to shrink the uterus after birth. Powell said the pediatrician told her Jaxson would have to be transferred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for observation because oxytocin can cause “cardiac issues, apnea, seizures,” and Powell could not accompany her baby to DeVos.
Powell said she felt “sheer terror.”
“I was just scared I was going to lose my baby,” she said through tears. “It was a very scary experience and the fact that they didn’t tell me, like everybody was just kind of hush hush about it, definitely made me feel like they were trying to push it under the rug and that scared me. If you make a mistake, I feel like you should step up and say something, inform the parents, not wait.”
Powell said she was frantic with worry for at least 30 minutes before the pediatrician told her what had happened.
Later, a nurse told Powell three separate steps weren’t followed correctly, leading to the mistake.
Corewell Health released the following statement to News 8.
“At Corewell Health, formerly Spectrum Health, the health and safety of our patients is of utmost concern. Due to patient privacy concerns, we are unable to provide further comment.”
Corewell did not address News 8’s questions regarding any disciplinary action or changes in protocols for medication administration.
About six hours after she gave birth, Powell asked to be released and traveled to Grand Rapids. Her epidural had barely worn off, she said.
Jaxson was in the NICU for around three days.
“They said he was doing good. He had a feeding tube for a while just because he wasn’t waking up enough, but they said they didn’t see any major effects of the medication, which I’m thankful for,” Powell said.
She said the staff at the children’s hospital told her something like that had never happened before. She was told that if something was going to happen, it likely would have happened already. Still, Powell is worried about unforeseen, long-term effects the mix up could have.
“Babies are fragile,” she said.
Powell is speaking out in hopes her voice will help ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“I feel like there needs to be better steps put into place or something because I could have lost my baby,” she said. “I want to make sure another family doesn’t have to go through this. … It’s scary, it was pretty traumatic and I’m just glad he’s OK.”
“It was supposed to be this beautiful — welcoming your child into this world, and then instead you don’t get to hold him for eight hours and you don’t get to feed him for two days,” she said. “You miss that skin-to-skin (contact) and all the things you’re supposed to do in the first 24 hours. I missed out on all of that.”
Jaxson is now doing well but has some jaundice, which he’s using a biliblanket for.
There’s very little research on the effects on oxytocin on infants, but in 2002, a national study examined a case in which a newborn was accidentally given an intramuscular injection of oxytocin.
Researchers reported, soon after the injection, the baby experienced periods of mild apnea, a slowed heart rate and low sodium levels.
Twenty-four hours later, the infant had stabilized, and all vital signs had returned to normal.