Hospitals & Medical Centers

Complexities Arise in Preventing Infant Abductions

Infant

Access controls, identification, and security video supplement policies and procedures when it comes to mitigating infant abductions. Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/American Academy of Pediatrics, Tammy Hanratty/Corbis

The rarest of incidents, infant abductions from hospital and healthcare facilities can cause cascading tragedies to families and facilities.

Based on reported incidents, California and Texas have the most infant abductions from hospitals.

There is a profile of a “typical” infant abductor, developed from an analysis of 256 cases occurring from 1983-2008, although hospital security executives and law enforcement officials say that such incidents can be triggered by others outside of the typical.   

The abductor:

 

  • Is usually female of “childbearing” age (ranging from 12 to 53).
  • Is most likely compulsive.
  • Frequently indicates she has lost a baby or is incapable of having one.
  • Is often married or cohabitating; companion’s desire for a child or the abductor’s desire to provide her companion with “his” child may be the motivation for the abduction.
  • Usually lives in the community where the abduction takes place.
  • Frequently initially visits nursery and maternity units at more than one healthcare facility prior to the abduction; frequently uses a fire exit stairwell for her escape.
  • Usually plans the abduction, but does not necessarily target a specific infant.
  • Frequently impersonates a nurse or other allied healthcare personnel.
  • Often becomes familiar with healthcare staff members, staff members work routines, and victim parents.

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