At the end of May 2012, preventable early deliveries at 37 Tennessee hospitals that provide labor and delivery services accounted for 14.1 percent of all deliveries. By the end of the year, that number had dropped to just 3.5 percent of all births, according to data reported by the hospitals and released today by the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA).
The drop is no coincidence, says David Adair, MD, director of maternal-fetal medicine at Erlanger Medical Center-Baroness Hospital, Chattanooga. “This remarkable reduction is the result of a lot of hard work and focus on the part of physicians and other providers across our state and will lead to fewer health and developmental complications in both the short and long term,” Adair said.
Healthy Tennessee Babies are Worth the Wait, a partnership launched last year by the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety (TCPS), Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC), Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), March of Dimes (MOD) and the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA), set out to improve awareness about the benefits of full-term delivery among expecting parents, their families, health providers and organizations that serve pregnant women.
“Early elective deliveries are associated with increased maternal and neonatal complications for both mothers and newborns, compared to deliveries occurring beyond 39 weeks,” Adair noted. “There is a great deal of evidence that documents the upside of going full-term if that is possible without endangering the health of the mother or child. Studies suggest that in addition to being at a decreased risk of death, babies that stay in the womb 39 weeks or longer can feed, digest and breathe better.”
“Prevention is the most effective use of our precious health resources,” said Craig A. Becker, president of THA. “The early results of this innovative collaboration are proof that when Tennesseans focus their energy and understanding on a health issue, they can change behaviors that lead to unnecessary health risks and additional cost.” Peter Grubb, MD, medical director of the TIPQC, said the results are promising for the future. “This is a great example of how we can improve care for Tennessee families by working together,” said Dr. Grubb. “By sharing data-driven strategies to implement evidence-based care, we can greatly accelerate the wide spread adoption of practices that improve quality and safety."
As part of the Healthy Tennessee Babies are Worth the Wait initiative, THA encouraged all hospitals providing labor and delivery services to implement policies to reduce deliveries prior to 39 weeks unless there is compelling medical risk to the mother or child. Fifty-nine Tennessee hospitals, or 89 percent, have committed to the project goals of reducing early elective delivery.
Participating hospitals include: Athens Regional Medical Center, Baptist Hospital (Nashville), Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, Blount Memorial Hospital, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Cumberland Medical Center, Dyersburg Regional Medical Center, Erlanger Women’s East, Erlanger Medical Center-Baroness Hospital, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Franklin Woods Community Hospital, Gateway Medical Center, Hardin Medical Center, Harton Regional Medical Center, Henry County Medical Center, Hillside Hospital, Indian Path Medical Center, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Jellico Community Hospital, Johnson City Medical Center, Lakeway Regional Hospital, LeConte Medical Center, Lincoln Medical Center, Livingston Regional Hospital, Maury Regional Medical Center, McNairy Regional Hospital, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, Middle Tennessee Medical Center, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, Nashville General Hospital, Newport Medical Center, NorthCrest Medical Center, Parkridge East Hospital, Parkwest Medical Center, Regional Hospital of Jackson, River Park Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, SkyRidge Medical Center, Southern Tennessee Medical Center, Sumner Regional Medical Center, Sweetwater Hospital Association, Takoma Regional Hospital, Regional Medical Center at Memphis, TriStar Centennial Medical Center, TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, TriStar Horizon Medical Center, TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, TriStar Summit Medical Center, Turkey Creek Medical Center, University Medical Center, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Vanderbilt University Hospitals, Volunteer Community Hospital, Wellmont-Holston Valley Medical Center, Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center and Williamson Medical Center.