Parents Accuse Doctor of Performing Oral Surgery on Newborn by Mistake

Tennessee parents say the doctor operated on the wrong infant.

ByABC News
February 10, 2016, 5:16 PM

— -- The parents of a Tennessee newborn say that their infant was mistakenly operated on while they were still in the hospital.

Nate Harper was born on Dec. 16 at University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee, Nate's mother Jennifer Melton said. A day after his birth, he was taken away by a nurse for a routine physical, Melton said, but when a nurse brought him back she started discussing a procedure called a "frenulectomy." The outpatient procedure involves clipping the bottom of the tongue to allow babies to feed more easily.

Melton said she asked the nurse what procedure she was talking about since Nate was just supposed to get a physical. In medical records released to ABC News by Melton and her husband Domonique Harper, the attending doctor wrote that he performed the procedure after he discussed it with "the parents of a different child." The doctor wrote in the notes that he had called to apologize for his "mistake."

"It's so frustrating that a moment that should have been so happy and joyous for us was ruined with this event," Melton told ABC News, noting that the doctor called to say he was "sorry" he operated on the wrong baby. In the medical records, the doctor wrote that he also visited the parents in the hospital to apologize and admitted it was his fault.

The hospital declined to address the operation directly, citing federal privacy laws, but that the hospital always take action to address patient concerns.

"University Medical Center is committed to providing quality care to all of our patients and expect independent members of the medical staff to honor the appropriate directives of their patients and families," said Adam Groshans, a spokesman for University Medical Center.

"Due to federal privacy regulations, we are unable to comment on any specific patient," Groshans added. "However, we can confirm that we take seriously any concerns brought to our attention, and those matters are reviewed pursuant to the hospital's medical staff by-laws. If made aware of a concern, we promptly seek to address it and take action as appropriate to prevent any future concerns."

The family’s attorney Clint Kelly has told ABC News that the couple now intends to file a lawsuit and that the hospital charged them for the procedure.

"We don't want another family to have to go through this," Melton told ABC News.