BUSHWOOD, Md. – A Bushwood, Maryland newborn is at home and thriving today but it has been a rough road. Now his parents are sharing what they called a “nightmare” they experienced in the NICU at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in hopes of change.
On September 26th, Hudson Hoffmaster was born at 34 weeks. He was considered a “late-term preemie” and placed in the NICU. Hudson’s mom, Stephanie said although he was delivered early, he was exceptionally healthy. The NICU required that Hudson eat 100% of his bottles on a strict three-hour schedule and take only 20 minutes to do so. If he didn’t meet those guidelines they would feed him through a nasogastric tube. But Stephanie says the nurses did not attempt to give her son a bottle for numerous days in a row.
After 10 days, Stephanie said she decided to share her story on Facebook, in hopes of getting someone’s attention at the hospital to hear her concerns. Here’s an excerpt of that post:
“The nurses here on multiple occasions have not even attempted to give my son a bottle for numerous days in a row for multiple reasons that are not appropriate. One day a nurse did not feed him at all by mouth ‘so that he would be more awake for us when we visited him later that night.’ The same nurse was caring for him when I walked in the NICU and found her scrolling through Facebook while my son’s face was completely covered in blankets, his NG tube had been ripped out, and was lying in his bassinet with his milk still running through the dislodged tube at 5 pm when he was supposed to eat at 3 pm.”
Stephanie said she and her husband John, met with management/administration and the NICU doctors regarding their concerns and were dismissed every time. The evening they found Hudson with his tube ripped out, they went straight to the charge nurse who promised to personally care for Hudson until shift change. That’s when she says the nurse replaced the NG tube, but immediately realized it was the wrong one; one that wasn’t compatible with the tubing needed to feed him.
She says the nurse quickly found an adapter to make the tubing work and reassured them that their son was okay. So Stephanie and her husband left for a few hours to get some sleep. When they returned, they noticed Hudson’s tube had been replaced again.
“We asked the dayshift nurse what happened to his other one and she acted like it was not possible he ever had a different one.”
The same day they claimed a baby next to Hudson was crying excessively while his nurse scrolled through her phone. Minutes later, another nurse came in and gave the baby a pacifier who then began coughing and gagging. That’s when the nurse realized the baby had started to rip his NG tube out and it was sitting in the back of his throat. The nurse told the primary nurse what was happening and she replied “ok thanks” and never looked up from her cell phone.
“My husband and I spent upwards of 20 hours a day in the NICU his last few days there and we observed incidents like this numerous times.”
The Hoffmasters say their biggest concern was the hospital’s response to their request for AMA (Against Medical Advice) paperwork. The NICU medical director claimed they had never had parents request this type of paperwork. Administrators called Children’s National, a nearby hospital, to ask what they should do and they referred them to what hospital policy says.
The policy states that after contacting all necessary parties if there is no immediate threat to the child’s life, the child should be discharged at the parent’s request. That AMA paperwork essentially protects the hospital from lawsuits if anything happens after the child leaves the hospital.
On their last night in the NICU, a nurse told them Medstar doesn’t have a written policy on AMA for minors, only for adults. That’s why the hospital reached out to their legal team for advice.
“The director assured us that ‘this would be eye-opening for Medstar’ considering all the commotion our request caused. We can only hope that Medstar does something about this so that no other parents have to go through the turmoil we went through.”
Stephanie says she knows all too well the stresses of being in the medical field. She’s an ER/trauma nurse who most recently worked at one of the busiest level-one trauma centers in D.C.
“I have the most sympathy and understanding for the daily struggles nurses and medical professionals go through on a daily basis, but the things we experienced at WHC were more than the common problems amongst hospitals, such as understaffing.”
Since they left the hospital, Stephanie says no one from Medstar has reached out to address their concerns.
When Stephanie’s sister submitted a complaint on the hospital website, a woman responded saying, “This is absolutely more than our office is equipped to handle”.
When Hudson was discharged from the NICU, the doctors were feeding him 50mL every three hours around the clock. Now that he’s home, he’s taking 60-80mLs every 2-4 hours and is able to feed in between when he shows that he’s hungry. He’s also more than a pound over his birth weight.
While their family is still recovering from the stress and trauma this experience has caused, Hudson continues to get stronger every day.
The BayNet reached out to the hospital but never received a response.
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