The Vermont Oxford Network is a widely respected national nonprofit group that collects data on infants treated in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) who were born at UK HealthCare or transferred from another facility. Data collected represents babies born with very low birth weight (VLBW), less than 3.3 pounds. Its role is to use that data to improve the quality of care those infants receive. For Kentucky Children’s Hospital, participation in Vermont Oxford is just one way we track and review the care infants in our NICU receive. We track six Vermont Oxford measures, overall mortality and five more specific conditions.
This measure includes inpatient NICU babies who are born alive but who do not reach their first birthday.
Understanding the mortality index.
Infants are considered to have chronic lung disease (CLD) if they are receiving oxygen at 36 weeks gestational age*, whether they are in the hospital or have been discharged home.
Gestational age is the common term used during pregnancy to describe how far along the pregnancy is. It is measured in weeks, from the first day of the woman's last menstrual cycle to the current date. A normal pregnancy can range from 38 to 42 weeks.
The gestational age of a baby born prematurely in the mother’s 34th week of pregnancy would be considered 34 weeks.
*Gestation is the period of time between conception and birth. During this time, the baby grows and develops inside the mother's womb.
In babies who are born early, usually at 32 weeks or earlier, the internal organs are not always fully formed. These babies are at risk of a serious intestinal disease known as necrotizing enterocolitis, in which parts of the intestine stop functioning. The intestines become inflamed and sometimes develop small holes called perforations. This can lead to severe infections and even the infant’s death.
Nosocomial infections occur when babies are exposed to bacteria in the hospital and become sick. Efforts to reduce these infections result in significantly better outcomes.
Severe intraventricular hemorrhage means a baby has bleeding in his or her brain. The blood vessels inside a premature baby’s brain are extremely small and fragile, and at birth, when they are suddenly exposed to oxygen or sudden changes in blood flow, these blood vessels may burst and cause bleeding. Severe bleeding can lead to long-term problems such as cerebral palsy, hearing loss, vision problems and learning difficulties.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants born before 31 weeks of gestation. The smaller a baby is at birth, the more likely that baby is to develop ROP. Ninety percent of babies who develop ROP will have a mild case and no long-term vision damage. This measure includes only babies who have severe (Stage III or IV) ROP.