Obviously, preventing abductions outside the hospital presents its own challenges. Nahirny cautions strongly against the publication of birth information on the local press or on Web sites. “These shouldn’t include any specifically identifying information,” she states, such as full names of parents or a home address.
Second, parents must understand the potential danger of posting signs or balloons outside the home after a birth, as these might alert a potential abductor to the presence of an infant. Finally, parents should be careful with unknown, unexpected, or recently acquainted visitors shortly after coming home from the hospital. There are several cases of abductors posing as home-health nurses, social workers, or other official personnel.
Even though she was able to grab the child and make it out of the room, Nikenya Washington did not make if off the hospital ward before being subdued by a security guard and other hospital personnel. Thankfully, the healthy 8-pound, 1-once baby girl was safely returned to her mother. In fact, hospital personnel in conjunction with local law enforcement and media safely recover most abducted infants thanks to orderly responses. However, the best option for all parties involved is a well-planned strategy of prevention. This includes physical barriers, electronic aides, and education of personnel and parents, as well as constant vigilance.
For those who want to get involved in preventing infant abduction, several resources are available. The NCMEC has quite a bit of information on its Web site (www.missingkids.com). There is also an excellent educational video produced by Mead Johnson Nutritionals called “Safeguard Their Tomorrows” available for viewing.
The most definitive resource for clinicians is a book entitled Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Infant Abduction. Currently in its eighth edition by John Rabun of the NCEMC, the book discusses the problem of infant abduction and defines its scope. There are various practical recommendations on the general, proactive, and physical measures to prevent abductions and on how to respond once an incident has occurred. There are also sections on how to advise parents and how to assess level of preparedness.
Dr. Axon is an instructor, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center, Charleston.
- Ankrom LG, Lent CJ. Cradle robbers: A study of the infant abductor. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. 1995;64(9):112-118.
- Hillen M. Teen held in attempt to abduct newborn. Arkansas Democrat Gazette. 16 January, 2006.
- Rabun J. For Healthcare Professionals: Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Infant Abduction. 8th ed. Alexandria, Virginia: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; 2005.
Pediatric Special Section
In the Literature
By G. Ronald Nicholis, MD, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo., Gina Weddle, RN, CPNP, Section of Pediatric Hospitalists, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics (Kansas City, Mo.), and J. Christopher Day, MD, Section of Pediatric Hospitalists, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics (Kansas City, Mo.)
Computerized Physician Order Entry—Not a Finished Product
Han YY, Carcillo JA, Venkataraman ST, et al. Unexpected increased mortality after implementation of a commercially sold computerized physician order entry system. Pediatrics. 2005;116(6):1506-1512.
Over the past several years attention has been increasingly focused on the inadequacy of patient safety in our practices. In response, hospitals, insurers, and practices have examined many potential changes to current systems in an effort to improve safety.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Leapfrog Group have championed computerized physician order entry (CPOE) as necessary for improving patient safety, citing the inadequacy of paper and pen for the ordering process. Research documenting that CPOE systems used in the hospital setting can decrease adverse drug events has fostered the promise and potential for CPOE to make the hospital a safer place for our patients, particularly when enhanced with decision support. Decision support can allow the physician to be alerted to errors in dose, drug-drug interaction, drug-food interaction, allergies, and the need for dosage corrections based on laboratory values at the time of ordering. Contrary to the research demonstrating improved safety, some studies have shown an increase in unique errors after implementation of CPOE.