Breast Milk is Very Good for Premature Infants…as Long as it is not Given Intravenously

Premature infants or babies born with esophageal, stomach or intestinal problems may not be able to nurse to receive a mother's nutritional breast milk. However, that does not mean that they cannot have the breast milk, it just means that it has to be fed to the baby a different way. Many premature infants or newborns with gastrointestinal (GI) problems will have nasogastric tubes (NGT), oral-gastric tubes, OJ tubes or PEG tubes for feeding. Instead of the baby nursing or taking a bottle to receive breast milk or formula, the nutrition will be given to the baby through a feeding tube.

In many newborn nurseries or neonatal intensive care units, the breast milk or formula to be fed to a baby is drawn up into a syringe, much like a syringe that medicine is packaged in. When it is feeding time, the nurse will hook the syringe filled with the breast milk or formula up to the baby's feeding tube and "feed" the baby. Unfortunately, formula or breast milk in syringes can look like lipids or certain medications and are mistakenly administered intravenously or IV. When that happens, the breast milk or formula is delivered into the baby's blood stream instead of the stomach or gastrointestinal tract.

Literature shows that inadvertent or accidental intravenous administration of breast milk or formula has been reported since 1972. Despite many advances in medical care, IV administration of breast milk or formula is still happening. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) and the Joint Commission continue to work with healthcare providers and hospitals to try and eliminate this mistake, but until they do, there are still some premature infants or sick newborns that die or suffer a permanent brain injury and lifelong medical problems because of the mistake.

Giving breast milk or formula through a vein is almost the same as a "wrong route" medication error. What was intended to be administered one way, was administered the wrong way and it caused harm. Here at the Beasley medical malpractice law firm, we have reviewed thousands of cases where there was a medication mistake. But, our medical and legal teams also know that there are other infusion mistakes that could happen. We know this because we have emergency trauma nurses and neonatal intensive care nurses on our medical negligence teams. They have actually worked in hospitals and know how and why mistakes or negligence can happen.

If your baby or a loved one has been injured due to a mistake in medication administration or received something IV that they should not have, please feel free to call one of our medication error attorneys in Pennsylvania, nurses, or physicians at 1.888.823.5291 for a free, no risk consultation.


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