Florida Hospitals Fix Early-Birth Problem

By  //  July 3, 2014

50 Hospitals Recognized, Including Holmes Regional Medical Center and Wuesthoff Health System 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on clinical evidence it is well established that, although 37 weeks gestation is considered term, a fetus will have a significant amount of development and growth in several key organ systems between 37 and 39 weeks’ gestation, and early elective delivery without medical or obstetrical indication is linked to neonatal morbidities with no benefit to the mother or infant, and an increase in costly malpractice claims that often follow.

Since 1979, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has cautioned against inductions before 39 weeks in the absence of a medical indication, and reducing Non-Medically Indicated Deliveries (NMID) has been a key priority for the March of Dimes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), and Medicaid Managed Care plans.

With a significant percentage of the births in Florida paid for by the Medicaid program, NMIDs also increase the cost to these programs due to increased neonatal morbidity and more neonatal intensive care unit admissions.

Included in the March of Dimes/ACOG recognition for meeting established goals to reduce early elective deliveries were Brevard County’s Holmes Regional Medical Center and Wuesthoff Health System.

— Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

HEALTH NEWS FLORIDA — Close to 50 Florida hospitals have successfully reined in a practice that can cause big problems: Deliberately delivering an infant before the completion of the 39th week of pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes are giving a banner of recognition that says “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait” to each hospital that meet the criteria, according to a news release from March of Dimes.

bimbo-6To qualify for the honor, hospitals had to reduce the rate of pre-39-week elective deliveries to less than 5 percent. They did this by reducing early inductions of labor and delaying scheduled Cesarean sections until the appropriate time.

In addition to those who have already received the banners, many others are in the process and hope to qualify by the end of the year, said Esteban Meneses with March of Dimes.

“Studies have shown that deliveries that are scheduled for non-medical reasons may increase harm to infants, increase health care costs, and worsen medical outcomes,” Tampa OB-GYN Robert Yelverton, state chairman for ACOG, said in a news release.  “We are extremely pleased with the participation from the hospitals across Florida and with the great results this collaborative effort is seeing.”

A pilot program that included six hospitals from Florida was able to reduce the rate of early delivery from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent.

March of Dimes provided this link to the list of hospitals that had met the goal as of July 1.