Heidi Creston: Infant Abduction

Heidi Creston, our nursing expert in the area of OB/neonatology, is back today to discuss the plausibility of kidnapping an infant from the hospital. This will increase the accuracy of any novel that takes on this source of high conflict. Don’t forget, leave a comment this month and be eligible to win a book on June 1, 2011.

Kidnapping, with a special emphasis of snatching a newborn from the hospital, seem to be a high interest for writers.  After all who isn’t captivated by the drama of a missing baby? Especially one taken straight from the hospital nursery?
There are two basic models for the design of maternity wards. The first is called LDRP. This is where the labor, delivery, recovery, and placement are all in the same room. Newborns stay in the room with their mothers unless otherwise indicated. Baths, weights, assessments, shots, hearing screens, are done in the room. Nursing staff strive to keep continuity of care, which means the family has the same nurses for her entire stay.
Nurses discuss safety and security measures with patients both prior to and after the baby is born.  These nurses have a specific color or design of uniform unique to their position. Their badges are also unique in color and have photo identification. Patients are forewarned that no one is allowed to take the baby from the room except their assigned nurse, and if someone other than their assigned nurse comes to take the baby to ring for their nurse.
 Please note:  Lab, housekeepers, even the pediatricians are not allowed to remove the infant from the patient’s room.
 Identification bracelets are placed on the wrist and ankle of the infant. Matching numbered bracelets are placed on the wrists of the mother and the designated support person. Electronic monitoring device is attached to the infant. This device will sound an alarm if manipulated. It will alarm if it comes within so many feet of the units locked doors. If an infant is discovered missing a special code is called, where all doors and elevators are locked. No one is permitted to exit the hospital until the code has been cleared.
The second model is where labor and delivery, nursery and post partum are separate units. The same safety and security measures remain in place, but there are more people involved in the care of the patient. Nurseries are always locked. Patients and family are not permitted to enter a nursery without an identification bracelet. Only nursery nurses are allowed to remove a baby from the nursery. The nursery is never left unattended, unless it has been closed by the nursing supervisor. Nurseries are laden with special mirrors and video surveillance.
Area hospitals have open communication, whenever a suspected abduction attempt has been reported. Pictures and descriptions of the perpetrator are released to all hospitals and staff are placed on full alert status. It is very difficult to simply walk in and steal a newborn from the maternity without a lot of preparation and research. In reality, if you are writing a piece about hospital abduction, taking the newborn from the pediatric office or the parking lot would be more believable.
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Adelheideh Creston lives in New York. She is former military and married military as well. Her grandmother was a WAVE and inspired her to become a nurse. Heidi spent some time as a certified nursing assistant, then an LPN, working in geriatrics, med surge, psych, telemetry and orthopedics. She’s been an RN several years with a specialty in labor and delivery and neonatology. Her experience has primarily been with military medicine, but she has also worked in the civilian sector. Heidi is an avid reader. She loves Christian fiction mysteries and suspense. Though, don’t recommend the gory graphic stuff to her… please. She enjoys writing her own stories and is yet unpublished. 

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