minnesota newborn screening program
A True Story from the Newborn Screening Files
It was a Saturday morning when the Newborn Screening Program laboratory staff let the on-call genetic counselor know there was a “hot positive” result to be called out. The result was too abnormal to wait until Monday morning, the doctor needed to be notified so evaluation and treatment could begin immediately.
When the genetic counselor opened the file, she was dismayed. The infant was identified only as “Baby Girl mother’s last name.” A quick check of the computer revealed that no birth certificate had been filed yet so the baby’s real name remained a mystery.
It got worse after that. The hospital had provided neither the mother’s phone number nor her birth date, so contacting mom or her clinic was not an option.
At the bottom of the slip was the worst news of all-no doctor’s name was listed. The clinic at the hospital was written in and that was all. From past experience, the counselor knew that this hospital often wrote in the name of the attached clinic even if the baby wasn’t their patient.
Of course, since it was Saturday, clinic was closed and the usual helpful staff was not available. It was just the answering service and the doctor.
The doctor responded to the page quickly and understood that the baby needed to be seen and treated over the weekend. He only had a few reasonable questions….”What’s the baby’s name? Are you sure I’m her doctor? and Can you give me the phone number?”
After hearing that MDH had no answers for his questions, the physician was upset. He agreed to do his best to find this baby before she got sicker, but he wasn’t sure how it would turn out.
The doctor drove to the hospital and rushed to the nursery. He had the staff request the chart of the recently discharged baby. He called the phone number on the chart and after a few tries he reached the family. The parents agreed to bring the baby to the Emergency Department. The baby did have a different last name from the mom and had an appointment scheduled in clinic for the next week.
Labs done Saturday afternoon confirmed that the baby was sick. Medicine was started immediately. This time the treatment was available soon enough to prevent brain damage and other health consequences.
The work you do can make all the difference in the world for a baby. Please remember this story the next time you fill out a newborn screening card or file information for a birth certificate.Updated Sunday, 05-Dec-2010 10:18:48 CST