Deadly Delays

Number 26213
Subject Health
Source Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
State Wisconsin
Year 2013
Publication Date Nov. 17 - Dec. 31, 2013
Summary Nearly every baby born in the United States has blood collected within a day or two of birth to be screened for dozens of genetic disorders. Each year, newborn screening is credited with saving or improving the lives of more than 12,000 babies in the United States. The entire premise of newborn screening is to detect disorders quickly so babies can be treated early, averting death and preventing or limiting brain damage, disability and a lifetime of costly medical care. The investigation found that thousands of hospitals — and dozens of state agencies that oversee the programs — are failing America’s children due to an ineffective and unaccountable newborn screening system wracked by deadly delays. As a result, children who should be diagnosed and treated shortly after birth are suffering preventable brain damage, disability and even death — as if they had been born decades before today’s screening tests and treatments were available. In an analysis of nearly 3 million newborn screening tests from throughout the country, the Journal Sentinel found that hundreds of thousands of blood samples from newborn babies arrive late at labs where they are to be tested. Despite very clear and dramatic warnings to send blood samples to state labs within 24 hours, many hospitals don’t comply, and instead wait days and then send blood samples in batches, saving a few dollars in postage. Problem hospitals throughout the country face no consequences and often are not even notified they are putting babies’ lives at risk.
Category Philip Meyer Contest entry
Pages 60
Keywords newborn; delays; hospitals; blood samples; babies; Philip Meyer entry
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