|MUSC's care for tiny patients recognized
interdisciplinary team of trained health care professionals who provide
specialized care for the tiniest patients in the Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit (NICU) have received recognition from the Vermont Oxford
Network (VON) for their efforts to improve the quality of care for
these vulnerable infants.
All newborn babies need special care, but some require intensive medical attention following delivery.
Babies admitted to the NICU are premature, have very low birth weights
(VLBW), or have a medical or surgical condition that requires
specialized care. VON is non-profit voluntary collaboration of health
care professionals dedicated to improving the quality and safety of
medical care for newborn infants and their families. Established in
1988, VON comprises nearly 700 NICUs around the world that
collaborate in research, education and quality improvement efforts.
MUSC cares for approximately 250 VLBW infants (between 500 and 1,500 grams) each year.
“When babies are protected from the damaging effects of oxygen,
ventilators and infections they do better and go home sooner,” said
Robin Bissinger, Ph.D., R.N., Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program
director. The MUSC staff’s dedication to quality improvement has
improved care and subsequently helped reduce the length of stay with
VLBW infants going home to their families approximately two to three
weeks sooner than the national average.
Since joining VON several years ago, MUSC has focused on the following
key quality areas: hospital-acquired infections (HAI), chronic lung
disease (CLD) and staffing for excellence. HAI can pose a huge threat
to babies struggling to live. Following the motto, “a hospital-acquired
infection is not a birth right,” MUSC developed a multidisciplinary
team of providers to address causes of HAI, and consult other
institutions while reviewing and implementing techniques to decrease
HAI in the NICU. As a result of this collaboration, MUSC has reduced
its infection rate by 75 percent in five years, and is now within the
group of leading hospitals in the network. Similarly, the rate of CLD
in MUSC’s NICU is now well below one-half of what is typically
seen in NICU graduates, again representing a substantial improve-ment
for MUSC’s infants.
“There is not one service that enters the doors of our neonatal
nurseries that have not participated even by simply washing their hands
and rolling up their sleeves,” said Bissinger. “The commit-ment of our
nurses to not only work in a unit where change is a constant factor in
their lives but embracing the change, which has been an amazing
contribution to these outcomes. In many cases it is the staff that
drives the change and we, as leaders, just keep making sure the road to
change is clear for them.”
Nov. 21, 2008