In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, we celebrate the many miraculous stories of the premature infants cared for by our neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners every day. As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes, and that couldn't be truer of our talented clinicians.
According to the March of Dimes, about 380,000 babies are born each year prematurely. Premature birth and the resulting complications are the number one cause of death of infants in the U.S., and those who survive often have long-term health problems. The U.S. preterm birth rate (the percent of babies born before 37 weeks' gestation) is 9.8%, among the worst of high-resource nations. This means a staggering 1 in 10 babies is born too soon each year.
Research drives innovative care
Through the Center for Research, Education, Quality and Safety, our affiliated clinicians regularly engage in clinical research, education, continuous quality improvement and safety initiatives as part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient care through evidence-based medicine. The research team has conducted years of clinical studies investigating the safety and efficacy of treatment and management strategies to improve sick babies' outcomes. These critical research efforts have contributed to better neonatal treatments nationwide, enabling our clinicians to successfully care for infants at a younger gestational age than ever before. The results of these groundbreaking quality improvement initiatives and research efforts are undoubtedly encouraging and contributing to incredible success stories.
Unique education opportunities
Thousands of health care providers worldwide take advantage of continuing education programs hosted by MEDNAX through online learning and live conferences each year, contributing to large-scale improvements in neonatal care. The Neonatology Grand Rounds webinar series addresses issues that influence the clinical practice of newborn medicine. Leaders in neonatology present on a wide range of topics, including the advancement of neonatal genetics, management of retinopathy of prematurity, improving the growth of very low birth weight babies and ethical considerations for the periviable birth.
Specialty Review in Neonatology is bi-annually. NEO: The Conference for Neonatology is annually in February. The premier meetings in neonatal medicine address critical issues that influence newborn medicine's clinical practice. Specialty Review will resume in 2022 for its 11th year, and NEO will take place as a virtual conference on Feb. 15-19, 2021. An esteemed panel of speakers comprised of well-recognized faculty from top institutions across the country and several MEDNAX-affiliated physicians will present on neonatal management's critical areas over five days. Registration is now open.
Enhancing quality in the NICU
One of the company's most notable Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) initiatives is the 100,000 Babies Campaign, a multidisciplinary collaboration between our neonatology teams and hospital partners. The Campaign focused on five critical clinical practices and procedures used in neonatal care: enhancing nutrition, improving medication use, reducing central line infections, minimizing mechanical ventilation and reducing suboptimal admission temperatures. From 2007 to 2013, de-identified study data was gathered on more than 420,000 babies at 330 NICUs in our national network. The CQI program is associated with simultaneous improvement in processes and patient outcomes, including significant mortality reductions in very low birth weight infants and reduced incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis, severe retinopathy of prematurity, late-onset sepsis and central line infections. Participating hospitals reported improved quality of care offered to women and their babies in the local communities; improved long-term outcomes and parent satisfaction; enhanced collaboration, communication, knowledge-sharing and interdisciplinary relationships amongst all members of the NICU team; and demonstrated commitment to quality improvement, as well as patient safety and cost-efficient care.
Building on its success, the 100,000 Babies Campaign has evolved into a series of tools to empower continuous improvement. New focus areas and a modified program design allow physicians to sponsor such programs in their local markets. As the nation's largest provider of comprehensive neonatal services caring for nearly 20% of the country's NICU babies, we recognize Prematurity Awareness Month in November and dedicate every day to improving outcomes for our tiniest patients.
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