Increased Newborn Resuscitation Training Keeps Babies Safer

Increased Newborn Resuscitation Training Keeps Babies Safer

Intermountain Healthcare’s Utah County-based hospitals see more than their fair share of births; in fact, the Provo/Orem area has the nation’s highest per capita birth rate. Many of those women choose to have their babies at an Intermountain hospital. Turns out, that’s a wise decision.

These Utah County hospitals have implemented a newborn resuscitation training program to help nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians prepare for patients born with breathing difficulties. This simulation program was trialed at Orem Community Hospital and found highly successful, improving resuscitation efforts by 80 percent since 2013.

“Before we started the program, many of the babies who were resuscitated needed additional care and were transported to our Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Now, many of those babies are experiencing better outcomes and are able to stay with mom after resuscitation,” says Stephen Minton, MD, Chief of Newborn Services at Utah Valley Hospital.

While most babies are delivered without complications, according to Dr. Minton, about 10 percent of babies need some help with oxygen or other minor issues after birth. And one percent of the babies born need resuscitation in order to breathe. Even in an area with a high-birth rate (like Utah County), one percent of births is still a small number. That makes newborn resuscitation an event labor and delivery nurses and newborn staff don’t see every day.

National standards require healthcare workers to refresh their newborn resuscitation training once every two years. This long period in between certification and the infrequency of the resuscitations was problematic for maintaining skills and confidence, and the staff wanted more. Working together to solve the problem, Dr. Minton, Gordon Lassen, Respiratory Manager at Utah Valley Hospital, and Jody Stevenson, Unit Educator at Orem Community Hospital, piloted this novel newborn resuscitation training program at Orem Community.

Their new training process now requires mandatory monthly testing to ensure staff are comfortable with the procedure and to ensure their skills stay sharp. During training, the hospital runs two mock resuscitations to give everyone involved the chance to practice their role safely. Each month, the staff are assigned a different role to play in the resuscitation so each caregiver is well-versed in all aspects of newborn resuscitation.  “Our staff are eager to have this training because of the knowledge and confidence it gives them during what can be a very intense and intimidating situation,” says Gordon.

The program has been so successful that Intermountain plans to roll it out throughout its 22 hospital system, and, Gordon says, there’s also national interest in the program. “This program has helped make resuscitation even better for our patients. We know how much the program has benefited our staff and our patients, and being able to share that with a wider group is really special.”