Regions

Virginia ranks first in the nation in health metric

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Virginia has made significant progress in seeing that more babies are carried to full term before they are delivered, hospital officials say.

Recent medical research has revealed that when babies are born after 39 weeks of gestation they tend to have fewer health problems. That research overturned previous assumptions that babies born between 37 and 39 weeks were just healthy as those carried to full term. Those assumptions fed a trend toward early elective deliveries (EED), early deliveries that are not medically necessary.

During the past the past four years, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association said Tuesday, the state has reduced its EED rate from 8 percent to 1.3 percent.

That percentage makes the commonwealth first in the nation in reducing EEDs, according to federal Hospital Compare data. Virginia  had been ranked 24th in the nation on EED rate based on Hospital Compare data released in 2014.

VHHA credited the improvement to collaboration by its Center for Healthcare Excellence, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Medical Society of Virginia, the March of Dimes, and other health care providers and stakeholders.

To reduce Virginia’s EED, 53 hospitals agreed to seek ways to limit early elective deliveries. They submitted monthly data tracking the total number of births at individual facilities, and the number of births occurring between 37 and 39 weeks. When the effort began in 2012, Virginia’s EED rate was 8 percent and the national goal was 4 percent.


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