Mother concerned about security after taking newborn home from local hospital


by Diana Zoga / News4

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 21 at 11:10 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- When Danielle Swinney checked into Barnes Jewish Hospital to give birth, the staff spelled out the security measures in place to make sure her newborn would be safe. 

One of the measures includes placing a transmitter on the baby's ankle.  The device triggers an alarm if someone attempts to take the baby out of a designated area.

"They tell us that this is a security system, if this monitor is moved a certain way or tries to slip off the baby's leg, then it would alarm the desk.  We could not hear this alarm, but it would alarm the desk," said  Swinney.

Which is why Swinney was surprised when she took her son home last Monday, unwrapped his blanket, and saw the security monitor still strapped to his ankle.  A small red light on the transmitter blinked, but there was seemingly no response from the hospital.  Swinney's mother called Barnes to tell them the family had the device.

"Nobody said anything about the safety of the baby.  Was the baby ok or anything?  It was just bring his monitor back because it was expensive," said Swinney.

She questioned why the monitor did not set off any alarms when she took her baby home.

"Was it not working?  How was my baby able to get through the security monitors without nobody being alarmed, nobody calling us, nobody stopping us, nobody doing any of this?," asked Swinney.

"What if it happens to another baby and the baby ends up gone?"

Barnes-Jewish Hospital said, in a statement, "When accompanying patients, our staff can move them around the hospital, when necessary, without sounding alarms."

"In this case, the security procedures in place were not compromised at any point.  Hospital staff identified the mom and infant in accordance with hospital policy, and then a registered nurse escorted them to the car where the infant was secured in a car seat.  The failure to remove the actual sensor was an oversight but the health and security of the baby was never compromised."

Swinney confirms that a nurse escorted the family out to their vehicle, but says the "oversight" should not have happened.  She says Barnes is arranging for someone to pick up the security device from the family.

Infant abductions from hospitals are rare.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children logged 132 cases in the U.S. from 1983 through this month.  Five of those children remain missing. 

Check out NCMEC's advice to expecting parents.

Earlier this year, a woman in California was accused of trying to sneak a newborn out of a hospital

In Pennsylvania this year, another woman is accused of taking a baby from a hospital there after dressing up as a nurse.  The baby was found safe a few hours later. 

This 2009 abduction prevention and response guide was published for hospitals.  It highlights the characteristics of a "typical" abductor.