Fort Worth hospital gave wrong breast milk to NICU baby

A Fort Worth hospital is apologizing after it mixed up breast milk in its NICU.

The mother, whose milk was given to the wrong baby at Texas Health Harris, contacted FOX4 after she was asked to take a blood test.

Kandace Espinosa is a big advocate for the health benefits of breast feeding and even runs a Facebook group for nursing moms. Her knowledge about breast milk that made her concerned when she got a phone call from Texas Health Harris three months after baby Jaxon was released from the NICU.

“She said Ms. Espinosa I have two things for you, first, we still have some of your breastmilk at the NICU. Second thing she said you might want to sit down for this, I'm like okay thinking what could be so wrong. She said they've administered it to another NICU baby.  My first reaction was okay great, in the NICU breast milk is medicine,” Espinosa said.

Then the hospital asked her to take a blood test and the gravity of the situation sank in.

“That's not safe, and that's not okay,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa wondered, for example, if the asthma medicine she takes might have been passed on unknowingly through her milk.

In a statement, a spokesman for Texas Health apologized.

“We regret that this happened and apologize for the mistake. We have conducted a full review of what happened and have reinforced our safeguards to better avoid this in the future,” the spokesman said.

Espinosa showed FOX4 a Facebook post in which a representative from Texas Health Harris says the other mom was notified about the mistake. FOX4 was unable to confirm that and also did not get a response when seeking information if this incident had happened to others.

FOX4 spoke with Children’s Health in Dallas, which was careful not to speculate about procedures at Texas Health Harris.

Dr. Rustin Morse, a pediatrician and the hospital's chief quality and safety officer, says Children's has a very detailed process to ensure every baby gets the right milk.

“Breast milk is a bodily fluid and can transmit disease,” Morse said. “You would never want to go up to a random person on the street and take their blood and put it in your body. You likewise would not want to do that with breast milk.”

Morse said donated milk is different. The mother's milk bank of North Texas says that milk goes through a screening and testing process and is also pasteurized.

Espinosa says she contacted FOX4 in hopes it will prompt the Fort Worth hospital to create new procedures something like she experienced does not happen again.

“I do not believe something like this, a medical mistake, should be swept under the rug,” Espinosa said. “In the NICU they're very fragile.”