Mum who accidentally smothered baby sues hospital for $8.6m

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The Portland Adventist Medical Center in OregonImage source, Google

A US mother who accidentally smothered her newborn son as she slept is suing the hospital where his death occurred for $8.6m (£6.6m).

Monica Thompson says nurses were negligent in allowing her to breastfeed her four-day-old baby, Jacob, while sedated and without supervision.

According to the lawsuit, nurses brought Mrs Thompson's son to her ward bed at around 03:00 on 6 August 2012.

After drifting off, she awoke to find the infant unresponsive.

Earlier that night she had been given "narcotic painkillers and sleep aids" by nurses at the Portland Adventist Medical Center in the state of Oregon, her lawsuit states.

Her son had been born "healthy" by Cesarean section, according to the lawsuit.

Six days after the accident, he was removed from life support, after doctors advised he would never recover from the brain damage.

Mrs Thompson is seeking compensation for the baby's "desperation and anxiety" and her own "severe emotional distress upon unintentionally killing her firstborn child".

"She called for a nurse while she tried to get him to respond," her lawsuit claims.

"Mrs Thompson tried to stimulate her son's suckling reflexes without success.

"She touched his eyes and got no response. She poked him and talked to him with no reaction.

"When no nurse came to help, Mrs Thompson carried her son to the hallway and frantically yelled for help."

The Portland Adventist Medical Center said in a statement: "This was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family.

"Adventist Medical Center is committed to providing quality, compassionate care to all of our patients.

"We are reviewing the claims being made and we are unable to provide any additional information at this time."

The American Academy of Pediatrics has previously recommended infants should not sleep in the same bed with parents, due to the risk the child could be smothered under an adult's shifting weight.

Some countries, such as Finland, have reduced their infant mortality rate by distributing cardboard box cribs to every new mother.