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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Santa Rosa Medical Center Making Fewer Early Deliveries

A study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that multi-state, hospital-based quality improvement programs, including one at Santa Rosa Medical Center (RSMC), in Milton, can be very effective at reducing early elective deliveries of babies. The March of Dimes, which partly funded the initiative, says this is good news because babies delivered before full term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.

The rate of elective early-term deliveries (inductions of labor and Cesarean sections without a medical reason) in a group of 25 participating hospitals fell from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent during the one-year project period, an 83 percent decline.

The March of Dimes urges hospitals, health care providers, and patients to follow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines that if a pregnancy is healthy, to wait for labor to begin on its own. The final weeks of pregnancy are crucial to a baby’s health because many vital organs, including the brain and lungs, are still developing.

Using measures such as enhanced education for nurses, new scheduling policies and improvement of patient education, RSMC reduced the total number of early-term and preterm deliveries from 43 percent to 31 percent, according to Dorothy Grace, MSN, director of women’s services.

Santa Rosa Medical Center implemented the toolkit, Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries before 39 Weeks Gestational Age, developed in partnership with the March of Dimes, the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and the California Maternal Child and Adolescent Division within the California Department of Public Health, to guide changes in early-term delivery practices. It can be downloaded free at PrematurityPrevention.org.

Santa Rosa Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in the nation to participate in this collaboration of perinatal quality improvement advocates with state health departments, academic health centers and March of Dimes chapters from the five most populous states in the country, which account for an estimated 38 percent of all births.

For more information about Santa Rosa Medical Center, visit srmcfl.com.

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