Harton Regional Medical Center has been recognized by the Tennessee Hospital Association’s (THA) Tennessee Center for Patient Safety for its leadership in reducing the number of babies born electively between 37 to 39 weeks.
According to experts, there is a greater risk of complications associated with births prior to 39 weeks, and waiting until 39 weeks allows for better growth and development of vital organs such as the brain, lungs and liver.
Harton successfully met its goal of decreasing the number of babies delivered electively between 37 to 39 weeks gestation to 5 percent or less and has maintained this goal for a minimum of six consecutive months, according to Craig Becker, THA president.
Harton was awarded a congratulatory banner recognizing its team’s outstanding effort by the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety.
“Babies born too early are at risk for respiratory distress, jaundice, hypoglycemia and other conditions that require more medical care and put them at greater risk for death before their first birthday,” said Becker. “That is why the work being done at Harton Regional Medical Center is so vitally important to all Tennesseans. Results like these represent the combined efforts of every single professional at this hospital, from the physicians and nursing staff to the board of trustees.”
Harton Regional Medical Center is part of a statewide “Healthy Tennessee Babies Are Worth the Wait” initiative launched less than two years ago to increase awareness of the benefits of full-term delivery.
In May 2012, nearly 16 percent of all Tennessee deliveries that occurred prior to 39 weeks gestation were considered elective. Today, that number has been reduced by almost 85 percent, according to Becker. Among other activities, Harton adopted a strict hard-stop policy that prohibits early elective deliveries before 39 weeks unless there is a clear medical risk to the mother or the baby.
The “Healthy Tennessee Babies Are Worth the Wait” program is a partnership of Harton Regional Medical Center, the Tennessee Department of Health, THA, Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care, March of Dimes and Tennessee Center for Patient Safety. The coalition has been recognized nationally as an example of successful collaboration in patient safety.