Crime & Justice

Accidental baby swap spells legal headache for Spanish region La Rioja

Madrid, Sep 8 (EFE).- The accidental swapping of two newborns in 2002, which only came to light this week, is shaking Spanish society, while one of the affected, who discovered the severe mixup, is pursuing legal action against the regional health care administration for over three million euros ($3.5 million).

Two babies were placed inside incubators at the Saint Millan Hospital – no longer operational – after being born five hours apart, and each of the girls were then handed to the other’s parents at discharge.

Almost 20 years later, one of the swapped children is demanding compensation for moral damages over “enormous negligence,” according to her lawyer José Sáez Morga.

According to regional Councilor for Health Sara Alba, inquiries have concluded that the swap was due to human error, but investigators have failed to pinpoint the person responsible for the accident.

“It would be impossible for something like that to happen again,” said Alba.

“The error is manifest, serious, and inadmissible,” said Sáez Morga. “The name of those responsible is of no relevance to us.”

“The responsibility falls on the administration, which was in charge of those people, whatever their names may be,” he argued.

The General Nursing Council called for calm after the case became known to the public, insisting that correct identification of newborns is a priority for the health care system.

In a statement, the council explained that to avoid such an event, sanitary staff is encouraged to not separate babies from their mothers right after birth.

Babies are then tagged with bracelets, one for the newborn and another for the mother, with identification numbers exclusive to each child.

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