Erythromycin (Newborn Eye Goop)

When a baby is born, care providers put antibiotics in its eyes to protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). This eye goop is called erythromycin. You can easily test for STD's before birth to decide if eye goop is needed. If a newborn comes into contact with STD's it could cause blindness.

The 100 year old law has been changed! There is no longer a class c misdemeanor for care providers who don't administer it and parents have the right to opt out!

Effective July 1, 2016:

TCA 68-5-202: Treatment specified for infant at birth -- Reports of redness, swelling, inflammation or pus -- Penalty.

(a) It is the duty of any physician, nurse or midwife who assists and is in charge at the birth of any infant, or has the care of the infant after birth, to treat the eyes of the infant with a prophylaxis to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum or infections leading to blindness. The treatment shall be given as soon as practicable after the birth of the infant and always within one (1) hour; and if any redness, swelling, inflammation, or gathering of pus appears in the eyes of the infant or upon the lid or about the eyes within two (2) weeks after birth, then any nurse, midwife or other person having care of the infant shall report the condition within six (6) hours after its discovery to a physician licensed and practicing medicine in this state.

(b) Nothing in this part shall require medical treatment under subsection (a) for the minor child of any person who files with the department of health a signed, written statement that such medical treatment conflicts with the person's religious tenets and practices, affirmed under penalties of perjury.

Each hospital has a form you will need to sign to refuse.  They will file it with the state for you. If you are birthing at home, talk to your midwife or you can send your own letter in to the state stating that you refuse to have the eye ointment administered due to a religious exemption. Send it to NBS.health@tn.gov.

It might say something like this:

"I have been informed that state law requires newborn eye treatment.

Nonetheless, I refuse this ointment at this time for my newborn baby________________  because such test conflicts with my religious tenets and practices.

Under penalty of perjury, I affirm such refusal because of a conflict with my religious tenets and practices. "


(Parent Name and Signature)

 The old law was made in 1915. It was 100 years old and did not give room for the parents to choose to not have it put in their newborn's eyes.

 

The Law prior to 2016 stated:

Title 68  Health, Safety and Environmental Protection  
Health  
Chapter 5  Prevention of Diseases  
Part 2  Newborn Testing -- Eyes

Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-5-202  (2015)

68-5-202.  Treatment specified for infant at birth -- Reports of redness, swelling, inflammation or pus -- Penalty.

 (a) It is the duty of any physician, nurse or midwife who assists and is in charge at the birth of any infant, or has the care of the infant after birth, to treat the eyes of the infant with a prophylaxis to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum or infections leading to blindness. The treatment shall be given as soon as practicable after the birth of the infant and always within one (1) hour; and if any redness, swelling, inflammation, or gathering of pus appears in the eyes of the infant or upon the lid or about the eyes within two (2) weeks after birth, then any nurse, midwife or other person having care of the infant shall report the condition within six (6) hours after its discovery to a physician licensed and practicing medicine in this state.

(b) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

HISTORY: Acts 1915, ch. 52, §§ 2, 3; Shan., §§ 6756a3, 6756a4; Code 1932, §§ 11175, 11176; modified; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), §§ 53-622, 53-623; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 2008, ch. 847, § 2.

Nashville, TN 37221

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Blissful Birthing TN, LLC

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