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Hospital group to post when newborn tests are sent

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Hospital Association says it will soon post data online that will show expecting parents whether the hospital where they plan to have their baby promptly sends newborn screening samples to the lab for testing.

The hospital group announced its plan Friday. It will begin posting the data on its CheckPoint website in April, and will publish the data for a year before deciding whether to keep listing it publicly.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1ckL1Kg ) that newborn screening has been under review since a November investigation by the newspaper found dozens of Wisconsin hospitals weren't quickly sending samples to the state lab. Thousands of hospitals nationwide were also delaying in sending samples in.

The newspaper investigation started after a baby almost died from a treatable condition. The New London hospital where he was born delayed sending his blood test to the lab.

About one in every 800 babies is born with a potentially severe condition that can be treated if testing is done properly. Nearly every child has blood sample taken within 24 to 48 hours of birth for the screening. The sample is supposed to be sent to a lab within 24 hours.

An analysis of one year of data in Wisconsin showed 2.9 percent of samples - or 1,769 - were delayed five or more days. Statewide, 87 percent of newborn screening samples arrived at the lab within three days of collection. Federally backed guidelines recommend samples take no more than three days to arrive at labs.

Data published to CheckPoint will gauge how many samples are received at the state lab within four days of collection.

Hospitals began receiving monthly reports of newborn screening metrics in January, including the time it takes to send samples to the lab. The information hadn't been given to hospitals before the newspaper's investigation.

Kelly Court, the association's chief quality officer, said hospitals are glad to have the data to improve their programs.

"The results are going to look really good," she said.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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