Baltimore, MD (May 15, 2012) -The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today released for public comment a draft standard for birthing hospitals to address non-medically indicated elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation. The incorporation of the new standard into the Maryland Perinatal System Standards will allow the Department to continue to monitor such deliveries through hospital site visits by the Morbidity, Mortality and Quality Review Committee and the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. It will also require all hospitals to develop policies to address these non-medically indicated deliveries.
"Reducing infant mortality is one of Governor O'Malley's 15 strategic policy goals. This effort will help us continue our success in improving birth outcomes statewide," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH.
Deliveries prior to 39 weeks without medical indication contribute significantly to neonatal morbidity, infant mortality, and hospital costs. As part of comprehensive efforts to improve birth outcomes in Maryland, DHMH has strongly supported the Maryland Patient Safety Center and its Perinatal Learning Network in the goal of eliminating non-medically indicated deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation.
"The Maryland Patient Safety Center is proud to be in the vanguard of this effort to reduce elective deliveries at less than 39 weeks and appreciate the support of DHMH in our efforts," said Robert H. Imhoff III, President & CEO of the Maryland Patient Safety Center. "Working with DHMH, our member hospitals and the dedicated doctors and nurses in our learning network, we are making significant inroads toward improving the care of mothers and infants in the State of Maryland. Our work in this area continues and we look forward to even greater improvement."
Through this initiative, the majority of birthing hospitals in Maryland have committed to eliminating these unnecessary and medically risky early deliveries through the adoption of strong policies and compliance monitoring plans. These efforts have resulted in a 93 percent reduction in elective induction of labor prior to 39 weeks and an 83 percent drop in early elective cesarean sections since January 2009 among participating hospitals.
"The Department is committed to working with Maryland's birthing hospitals to assure that all infants are delivered safely and without unnecessary risk, and we congratulate those hospitals that have taken great strides toward eliminating unnecessary early elective deliveries," said Frances B. Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services.
The Maryland Perinatal System Standards were originally developed in 1995-1998 by a DHMH advisory committee as a set of voluntary standards for Maryland hospitals providing obstetrical and neonatal services. The standards were updated several times since, most recently in 2008.
A draft standard is posted at http://fha.dhmh.maryland.gov/mch/SitePages/Perinatal_public_comments.aspx . An opportunity for public comment is available for 30 days. You can also link to the draft standard by clicking on "Comment Period on Perinatal Standards " under 'Hot Topics' at www.dhmh.maryland.gov . The final standard will become effective on July 1, 2012.
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