In 2008, MultiCare, a WSHA member and Tacoma-based health system, was one of the first hospitals in the state to begin researching the effectiveness of pulse oximetry screening for detecting congenital heart defects in newborns born at Tacoma General.
In 2014, six years and more than 18,000 screenings later, the pulse oximtery test became the standard of care for all of MultiCare’s Birth Centers. The work done to study pulse oximetry screening at MultiCare was chronicled in the journal, Pediatrics. To date, five critical congenital heart defect cases have been identified through MultiCare’s screening efforts.
The work that has already saved young lives in Tacoma could soon be saving newborns across the country. MultiCare clinicians were one of three U.S. hospital teams chosen to travel to Washington, D.C., to make a presentation about the lifesaving potential of universal pulse oximetry newborn screening. Because of research at Tacoma General and other sites, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommended pulse oximetry for all newborns nationwide. (Ed Boyle)