Baby Circumcised "By Accident" in Miami Hospital NICU

Delgado holds her 4 week old son as she tells how he was in the hospital's NICU for 10 days and circumcised against her written documentation, on the 8th day.

This is not the first time it has occurred. Or the second - or even the 100th. In fact, it happens more often than we'd like to recognize. Not only are 32% of baby boys born in the U.S. being circumcised against their will, even when birth mothers stand up to pro-cutting hospital routine (that profits $$$ from circumcision surgery), occasionally their babies are circumcised nonetheless. This is a horrific violation of human rights and patient rights.

Despite the hospital brushing off their "unfortunate mistake" by saying that baby Mario is fine and "didn't have any complications" he is forever impaired by the forced removal of his prepuce organ. As one young man recently noted - there are always complications - no circumcision surgery is performed without loss. Hospital staff who "misread" Mario's paperwork have no idea how this will impact Mario's future sexual health, his wellbeing, or that of his partner(s) later in life.

Just last week I was urging parents to keep their babies with them post-birth - keeping watch even if their little one must be in the NICU. As Aronfed (the attorney in this case) notes - hospitals make mistakes - and they make them all the time.

There are many reasons that birth is generally safer at home (for both mothers and babies). That is topic for another post. But if you do elect to birth in a U.S. hospital, make clear and detailed notes that you will *sue* the hospital if they circumcise your baby. Attorneys For the Rights of the Child (ARC) suggest using bold and direct language that cannot be ignored or "misread" - language which clearly states the legal heap of trouble the hospital will be in if your baby is "accidentally" circumcised. Make sure multiple copies are placed in your file and your baby's file. Keep a document by his bed and on your door. Send one to the legal representative for your hospital. Attorneys who are familiar with these accidental circumcision cases state that hospital staff do not always go through patient files, but threaten a lawsuit ahead of time, and the hospital will pay attention. Sarah Arnold Thompson shared this sign (below) that she encourages parents to print and hang next to their baby. You can easily make your own sign as well. CIRP includes this page devoted to helping American parents protect their sons born in U.S. hospitals from unwarranted circumcision surgery.

Whatever you do, keep your baby with you if at all possible, and do what you must to protect him while he is still on hospital grounds. After all, lawsuit or not, no money in the world is going to get back a child's full penis or his wholeness. Mario will never again be intact. And this is more than an "unfortunate mistake."

[Side note: If you are a woman reading this, imagine for a moment that you had your clitoral hood 'accidentally' amputated in the hospital without your permission or knowledge. And without anesthesia. How would it impact your life? How would you feel about this loss? What repercussions should the hospital face? Could it ever be made right by you? Lest we minimize the gravity of Mario's situation, and all other boys who face this same destruction to their body, we should recognize that their genital organs are no less important because they are male and it is culturally accepted by some to do such things to baby boys in North America. The prepuce is an organ that all of us - male and female - are born with. It serves vital functions, and we each have the basic human right to maintain this organ and do with it as we please.]

To contact the hospital where this event took place:

South Miami Hospital
6200 SW 73 Street
South Miami, FL 33143
Phone: (786) 662-4000

The physician who took Mario from the NICU and circumcised him during the 1 hour that his parents left his side is Mary Jean Pazos, M.D. She has practiced for 22 years and attended medical school at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines.

Pazos' Clinic Address:

1150 Campo Sano Ave Suite 400
Miami, FL 33143

Rate the Doctor Pages for Pazos:

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CBS News Channel 4 (South Miami)
Reported by Gio Benitez

Mario Viera is just four weeks old. When he was born, his mom says she told doctors at South Miami Hospital several times that she did not want Mario circumcised.

"It's a big hospital," said Vera Delgado, Mario's mother. "It's a good hospital, and I thought he's safe, he's good there."

But eight days after his birth, without his mother even present, doctors performed the circumcision surgery.

"I was crying. I spent that day and the next day crying," Delgado told CBS4's Gio Benitez.

It turns out every man in Mario's family is intact. It's a family tradition.

Delgado knows a lot of people will think, "Oh that's not a big deal. But what would happen if you don't want that for your son, and they do it anyway?"

"This is not malpractice. This is a battery," said Attorney Spencer Aronfeld, who is working the case. [Aronfeld is a personal injury lawyer in Miami.]

On Monday, Aronfeld says he'll file a lawsuit against the doctor and hospital for battery. "They went and they did an unnecessary, unwanted surgical procedure on this child without the parents permission," he said.

The hospital released this statement:

"The baby's circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred."

"I see hospitals make mistakes all the time. What I don't see is hospitals make mistakes, and admit them," said Aronfeld. But he and Delgado say the hospital has to do more than admit the mistake because Delgado says it is a risk Mario did not need to face.

"And with him being in intensive care, with more reason," she said. Mario was in intensive care for ten days. He was circumcised on the eighth.

Hospital spokespeople say they're sorry.

"I know they apologized and everything, but it's done - the damage is done," said Delgado.

The following is South Miami Hospital's full statement regarding Mario Viera's circumcision:

The baby's circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred. We also immediately implemented new processes to ensure this mistake will not occur again. The procedure itself was performed following appropriate surgical guidelines and the baby didn't have any complications. Nevertheless, we're all deeply sorry that this happened.

Original CBS News Transcript Here

Statement by Aronfeld Trial Lawyers
Permalink to Statement

Our Florida law firm sues hospitals for mistakes on behalf of injured patients all the time; but the case of Mario Viera who is just four weeks old is very unusual. When he was born, his parents told the doctors at South Miami Hospital several times that they did not want Mario circumcised. Somehow, the doctors claim, they got the consent forms mixed up and took Baby Mario out of the NICU and circumcised him without the parents knowledge or consent violating Florida Medical Consent Statute 766.103.

Some question why this is objectionable. After all many people are circumcised everyday in this country without any objection from the parents. As a Miami medical malpractice lawyer, I disagree and on Monday we will file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the hospital and doctors who performed the irreversible amputation of this helpless baby's functioning tissue. We take the position that the procedure constitutes more than just medical malpractice, it is a battery and a human rights violation with lifelong consequences.

According to a Canadian study: "the risks of circumcision have always exceeded any alleged benefits, a fact that often is not made clear to parents" and some insurance companies no longer provide coverage for routine infant circumcision and there are hospitals that refuse to perform it because there is no medical indication.

Canadian Medical Association Journal, Mar 13, 1996, 154(6), 769-780.

newborn onesies available here to help protect boys born in U.S. hospitals (various colors available)

Protection of Infant Boys from Wrongful Circumcision in American Hospitals

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