From the Journals

Newborn transfer may not reflect true rate of complications



Neonatal transfer was the factor most often associated with unexpected, severe complications at birth, particularly at hospitals that had the highest rates of complications, according to a cross-sectional study published online in JAMA Network Open (2020;3[2]:e1919498).

“Transfers were more likely to be necessary when infants were born in hospitals with lower levels of neonatal care,” Mark A. Clapp, MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues wrote. “Thus, if this metric is to be used in its current form, it would appear that accreditors, regulatory bodies, and payers should consider adjusting for or stratifying by a hospital’s level of neonatal care to avoid disincentivizing against appropriate transfers.”

The Joint Commission recently included unexpected complications in term newborns as a marker of quality of obstetric care, but it does not currently recommend any risk adjustment for the metric. The authors aimed to learn which factors regarding patients and hospitals were associated with such complications. Severe, unexpected newborn complications include death, seizure, use of assisted ventilation for at least 6 hours, transfer to another facility, or a 5-minute Apgar score of 3 or less.

“This measure has been proposed to serve as a balancing measure to maternal metrics, such as the rate of nulliparous, term, singleton, vertex-presenting cesarean deliveries,” the authors explained.

This study was supported by a Health Policy Award from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.

This story first appeared on Medscape.

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