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The Two Hospitals Have Similar Infant Death Rates — Until You Look at Extremely Premature Babies
These babies’ problems can spiral into life-threatening conditions in a matter of hours. There’s no indication that Lovelace improperly handled the infant’s treatment. But extremely preterm babies died at the hospital with striking frequency, according to an analysis of state health data by New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica.
A yearlong investigation by the news organizations found that at Lovelace, the tiniest, most premature babies died at up to twice the rate as they did a few miles away, at Presbyterian Hospital, another major maternity and newborn facility.
New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica also found that Lovelace transferred more than three times as many newborns as Presbyterian to the University of New Mexico Hospital, the state’s only top-tier, level-4 regional referral NICU, where the sickest of the state’s newborns are sent for care.
All told, between 2015 and 2019, close to half — 46% — of the 84 extremely preterm babies born at Lovelace either died at the hospital or were transferred to UNM, according to Health Department data and UNM NICU records. Twenty-one percent of the 170 extremely preterm babies born at Presbyterian died, and none was transferred to UNM during those years.
Experts said the findings should be investigated.
PHOTO CREDIT: Carol McCullough
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