Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) occur in approximately 1:100 births and are the leading cause of newborn and infant death. Yet, heart defects are sometimes overlooked and not routinely diagnosed in newborns. Early detection and early treatment lead to better outcomes through surgery, interventional cardiology procedures, and medication.
In April 2013, MultiCare Health System officially declared pulse-oximetry newborn heart screening standard of care for all newborns in MultiCare family birth centers. While pulse-oximetry screening has been offered to all families since 2008 as part of a research study at Tacoma General Hospital, the screening test will now be performed for all babies as part of their normal newborn care. Since its inception in 2008, pulse-oximetry screening has identified 45 infants with congenital heart defects, five of whom had critical congenital heart defects. In May 2012 the screening program was expanded to include Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. Screening is now done at all three Family Birth Centers, in Tacoma, Puyallup and Auburn.
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially endorsed newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease.
Representatives of MultiCare’s program were one of three U.S. hospital teams selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to make a presentation about the lifesaving potential of universal pulse oximetry newborn screening. Because of research at Tacoma General and other sites, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommended pulse oximetry for all newborns nationwide.
For their pioneering work in screening newborns for heart defects, MultiCare Tacoma General Family Birth Center and Mary Bridge Pediatric Heart Center received the 2011 Warren Featherstone Reid Award for Excellence in Health Care.