Newborn Screening Rulemaking

The ADHS won the first-ever Newborn Screening Quality Award from the March of Dimes this week.

We were recognized for shortening the length of time it takes bloodspot samples to get from Arizona hospitals to our State Laboratory, setting and achieving a target of receiving 95% of samples within 72 hours, and for establishing a policy of full transparency for the length of time it takes Arizona hospitals to send newborn blood samples to our lab.

The March of Dimes established the new award in honor of Dr. Robert Guthrie, known as “the father of newborn screening” for developing the first mass screening test for babies 51 years ago. The awards recognize leadership in establishing culture of safety as a way to avoid those deadly delays in states’ newborn screening process.

When a reporter from Wisconsin wrote a story about newborn screening turn-around times around the country last December, we found out that we had room for improvement when it comes to the time it takes newborn metabolic screening samples to get from AZ hospitals to our Lab.  Basically, it was taking too long for the samples to be screened for life threatening and time-sensitive disorders… so we set a goal of getting 95% of the samples to our Lab within 3 days by July 1, 2014.  When we started the project back in December 2013 we were receiving 67% of our samples in 3 days, 20% in 4 days, 9% in 5 days, 4% of the samples took more than 5 days to get to our lab.

We met our goal a month early.  As of this summer, we’re receiving 99% of newborn bloodspot specimens within 3 days with an average transit time of just 1.38 days in June.  The Newborn Screening Transit Time Project team did a fabulous job tackling training for hospitals, eliminating issues with delivery contractors and ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page.  Well done.

I’d also like to thank the March of Dimes for their leadership in improving birth outcomes around the country- and our fabulous Arizona Chapter for their partnership over the years.  By the way- you can volunteer for the local chapter or participate in local March of Dimes events by visiting the Arizona Chapter website.