An investigative article published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a couple of weeks ago has triggered a state by state assessment of newborn screening programs across the country.  Arizona is no exception.   Our newborn screening and maternal and child health teams have been reviewing our procedures and looking for ways to improve Arizona’s performance. 

For example, several Arizona hospitals are under-performing when it comes to the timeliness of submitting newborn blood spot samples to our State Lab for testing. Last week, our Licensing team sent letters out to each of the birthing hospitals reminding them that they need to have solid policies and procedures in place to get their newborn screening samples to our lab promptly after they’re collected.  

Our laboratory team is in the process of planning some technical assistance visits to the hospitals.   We’ll also be setting up some training to make sure that all the hospitals know that our contract with FedEx for overnight priority pickup covers the entire state and won’t cost them anything to use.  I’ve set a goal for us to receive 95% of all samples in the lab within 3 days of collection- and we’ll be posting hospital turn-around times on our website quarterly- using transparency to drive better compliance.  We’re also developing a plan to run priority tests during 3-day weekends.  

Our Newborn Screening Advisory Committee also met this week.  We discussed our proposed newborn screening fee increase as well as whether we should add new tests to the panel in the future.  We haven’t made any decisions about whether to include new tests (and associated fees)…  but we’ll be reviewing the comments that we’ve been receiving as we prepare to make decisions in the coming weeks.