Intermountain Healthcare is at the forefront in researching new techniques and technologies in providing the best care possible for women & newborns.  This experience leads to expertise in providing the most advanced treatment plans and better care options.

Research Highlights

Platelet Reference Ranges for Newborns

This study established a precise reference range for determining abnormal blood platelet counts in newborns. By knowing the normal range for platelet count, we identified patients that have abnormal platelet counts. Identifying a platelet count as abnormal can help in the recognition of various diseases.

Information for this study was extracted from electronic records of 47,000 newborns born in Intermountain facilities in the past six years. This study demonstrates that the advancing age of a newborn (from birth to nine weeks) has a significant effect on the platelet count.

Adherence to NICU Transfusion Guidelines

Blood transfusions are an essential part of neonatal intensive care medicine, but they carry risks. With this in mind, every blood transfusion given at an Intermountain NICU in a one year period was reviewed, to determine the portion of transfusions given out of compliance with the Intermountain transfusion guidelines. The information was used to identify patterns of non-compliance that could be addressed and rectified. The data was collected from archived electronic and paper medical records.

Newborns that received large numbers of transfusions were more likely to have received a transfusion in violation of Intermountain’s guidelines. Platelet transfusion was more likely to be out of compliance if administered during the first week after birth, but red blood cell transfusions were more likely to be out of compliance if administered very late in the hospital course. This study formed the basis of the 2009 Intermountain Healthcare board goal on improving adherence to NICU transfusion guidelines.

Using Umbilical Cord Tissue to Detect Fetal Exposure to Illicit Drugs

This study determined that umbilical cord tissue could be used to detect fetal exposure to illicit drugs. Specifically, the performance of a testing method called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was assessed to determine accuracy when testing five different classifications of illicit drugs. Umbilical cord segments were sent to the United States drug testing laboratories to complete testing, if certain criteria were met suggesting the possibility of drug abuse in the mother.

The ELISA testing method provided faster results and is inexpensive in comparison to the other established testing methods. We found that the ELISA method performed very well, reporting more than 98% accuracy in test results for all five drug categories. Information derived from this test can help guide proper treatment for newborns with drug withdrawal. This new diagnostic test is now available for detecting fetal exposure to illicit drugs, because of the work done at Intermountain.

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