February 1, 2023

Mount Sinai Investigates Death of NICU Patient During Nurses’ Strike

Mount Sinai Investigates Death of NICU Patient During Nurses’ Strike

Mount Sinai Hospital is currently investigating the death of a 4-month-old baby that occurred during the nurses’ strike in New York. According to reports, the infant died in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after being hospitalized since birth for a severe heart condition. All NICU deaths are reviewed by the hospital and possibly the state. 

“The New York State Department of Health takes instances of potential medical misconduct seriously,” said Cort Ruddy, a spokesperson for the New York Department of Health.

It was reported that during the nurses’ strike, the replacement nurses’ were not properly trained and lacked the needed resources to perform their nursing duties. Additionally, like most strike nurses - they were not given any orientation to the unit or the patients prior to their first shift. Furthermore, hospitals did not bring in enough nurses to care for the patients according to several news outlets

In a CNN exclusive, Lora Ribas was interviewed about the staffing at the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital. Why? Because her son has been hospitalized in the NICU for over three and a half months. During the nurses' strike, Ribas didn’t leave her son’s bedside. “Mount Sinai’s NICU has been consistently understaffed even before the strike,” Ribas said

After taking a leave of absence from her job, she stayed 24/7 at her son’s bedside because according to her, the new travel nurses didn’t fully understand her son’s needs and she was too concerned to leave him alone. 

“They aren’t able to give him one-on-one care because of the staffing shortages,” according to the mom, and she said, “the staffing levels are even lower at night.” 

In fact, prior to the nurses’ strike, countless NICU patients were transferred to other locations.  The hospital said to CBS News, “it would be premature to speculate what may have gone wrong, saying that staffing at the NICU at the time was one-to-one.”

According to sources, staff failed to notice the patient’s low blood count and the nurses that were caring for the patient did not notice the low counts or the alerts from the laboratory. 

“These babies can get very sick very quickly … That’s why subtle things you see are important to report, and highly trained NICU nurses do that,” said a source who worked in the NICU during the strike. The nurse asked the news outlet to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Mount Sinai or the travel staffing agency. 

Mount Sinai Hospital has a Level IV NICU. A Level IV NICU provides the highest level of care to premature and term infants. These NICUs can provide the surgical repair of complex congenital or acquired conditions.

This is an ongoing investigation and information will be updated as it becomes available. 

Nurse.org has reached out to Mount Sinai and has not received a reply at the time of publication. 


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