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Hospitals take on extra methods to reduce birth injuries

A set of practices developed as part of a Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative has been shown to reduce injuries among newborn babies by anywhere from 5.4 percent to 25 percent at hospitals that have adopted them. Besides reducing birth injuries, the practices had the effect of reducing legal liability and costs and reducing traumatic experiences for medical personnel as well as parents. Despite this, only 14 hospitals have adopted the measures as preferred best practices.

Across the nation, approximately 9 percent of the 4 million baby deliveries taking place annually involve some sort of adverse incident. Experts say that as many as 3 out of 10 of these problems could have been avoided, and that communication problems among medical personnel may be responsible for many of them.

The aim of the 14 hospitals that adopted these measures four years ago was to reduce serious birth injuries that can cause permanent neurological disability, such as birth asphyxia. The measures included enhanced efforts to estimate the weight of each fetus before undertaking speed labor by such actions as administering oxytocin. Another important effort was aimed at improving medical staff communication by engaging in drills simulating various treatment situations using actresses or mannequins for practice.

By engaging in these drills, the medical staff starts to become better able to quickly work together in the event of real emergencies. The hospitals involved in the initiative on average have reduced instances of postpartum hemorrhage by approximately 5.4 percent, reduced complications involving anesthesia problems by 15 percent, and lowered instances of birth asphyxia and hypoxia by 25 percent. The last is particularly significant, as birth hypoxia and asphyxia deprive the baby of oxygen, and frequently result in brain damage.

Source: ModernHealthcare.com, "Safety initiative seen curbing birth injuries," Andis Robeznieks, Dec. 4, 2012

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