Gagged

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Saturday, May 17, 2014


YOU must have heard about the newborn baby whose mouth was gagged with surgical tape for being too noisy in the hospital nursery. Quite frankly, I am shocked at this unspeakably inhumane act.

Three nurses were allegedly on duty at the nursery when the parents came by to pay their baby a visit and discovered this anomaly. To date, no fingers have been pointed as to which one among the three on duty was responsible for the gagging or if in fact, this procedure was standard in that nursery which would then make all three nurses collectively responsible.

I had initially assumed that this was the act of one psychologically unstable, immature or possibly simply idiotic nurse but I am disturbed at the alleged explanation of the hospital that a nurse taped the baby’s mouth to prevent the pacifier stuck into the baby’s mouth from falling off.

So aside from the tape, there was a pacifier. Was this practice actually acceptable to hospital administrators? In what particular instance would the gagging of a human being, worse, a baby, be justified? We don’t even gag our pets.

Reports say that the newborn was not taken home immediately after birth because of an infection. If this is true then would it not have been the height of stupidity for the hospital staff to put a pacifier in his mouth and expose him to more infection?

Was this a simple act of idiocy? Or was this some dangerously crafted and misguided hospital policy? This alarming incident should rightfully be investigated by the Department of Health.

A hospital is supposed to be a sanctuary. Patients enter a medical facility seeking healing, comfort and protection from pain and illness. The last thing a hospital should be is to be a place of abuse, anomaly and impunity.

An infant is completely helpless and is, at all times, under the mercy of his caregivers. How would these nurses conduct themselves if the elderly were placed under their care? Would they also gag old and ailing patients to stop them from complaining? This act of gagging patients is completely abominable.

Government should mandate that closed-circuit television cameras be in place in medical facilities where patients are at the mercy of medical practitioners. Abuses can and do happen in these places.

I was outraged to see the surgical tape practically covering not just the baby’s mouth but the baby’s cheeks. The tape almost stretched over to the baby’s ears. Of course, it is no surprise that bits of the baby’s skin tore off when the tape was removed. Did these nurses train at Abu Ghraib?
The baby was too noisy? Hello? Was this not a nursery? Aren’t babies supposed to cry? And especially when they are ill? Or when they suffer some discomfort like wet nappies? Babies possess no other means of communication. If these nurses wanted silence, they should have applied to be caretakers in the morgue.

Frankly, I think the parents should be commended for their composure because if that baby were mine, I would have gagged the mouth of that nurse who claimed to have gagged the baby because he was too noisy. I would have gagged the nurse’s mouth for issuing such an unspeakably idiotic statement.

(Email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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