Ask HRC: Adding Pulse Oximetry to Newborn Screening

April 24, 2012 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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An ECRI Institute member recently asked if the directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) to add pulse oximetry to the screening performed on neonates at the time of birth will change the standard of care for newborn screening.

Key to the issue, HRC believes, is that the American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed HHS’s recommendation for universal newborn screening using pulse oximetry. This cannot be ignored—because potentially, that recommendation could be considered at least as “some evidence” of the standard of care in a malpractice case, if the plaintiff’s expert witness relies on this recommendation for his or her opinion. Therefore, a hospital that provides newborn care should have a policy in place that either adopts the screening recommendation and provides a procedure for conducting the screening with pulse oximetry,...

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