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  Pulse Oximetry Testing in Newborns Endorsed by Secretary Sebelius
September 23, 2011

Washington, DC—United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has adopted the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children’s recommendation to add screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) to the Uniform Screening Panel. The endorsement recognizes the ongoing effort by pediatric cardiologists, nurses, and child health advocates, including Gerard Martin, MD, senior vice president of the Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease and co-director of the Children’s National Heart Institute at Children’s National Medical Center.

In 2009, physicians and staff at Children’s National and Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring initiated a research study examining implementation of pulse oximetry screening for CCHD in a community nursery. Findings from this work led to the development of an educational toolkit, which Dr. Martin and his team are using to help other hospitals locally, nationally, and internationally implement screening in their nurseries.

In addition, staff from Children’s National also collaborated with the Maryland General Assembly to enact legislation that will help implement congenital heart disease screening for all newborns in the state. Approximately 3 of every 1,000 babies are born with critical congenital heart disease.

Dr. Martin spearheaded the implementation research, which was funded by the Elsie and Marvin Dekelboum Family Foundation. He and nursing coordinator, Elizabeth Bradshaw, MSN, RN, CPN, also sat on a federal advisory panel that developed implementation recommendations in January of this year. A white paper outlining outcomes from this meeting was endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association, and is now available online. The endorsed white paper will appear in the November 2011 issue of Pediatrics.

“We are extremely excited to receive word of Secretary Sebelius’s support of pulse ox testing,” said Dr. Martin. “We have learned that this screening can be easily implemented into nurseries and will improve the detection of critical congenital heart disease. This painless and inexpensive test serves as an additional tool for health care providers to detect low oxygen levels that may not be detected by the human eye. The announcement from Secretary Sebelius will save lives.”

Contact: Susan Muma or Emily Dammeyer, Public Relations,  202-476-4500

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About Children’s National Medical Center:
Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, has been serving the nation’s children since 1870. Home to Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. With 283 beds, more than 1,330 nurses, 550 physicians, and seven regional outpatient centers, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of acute pediatric services in the Washington metropolitan area. Children’s National has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet® designated hospital, the highest level of recognition for nursing excellence that a medical center can achieve. For more information, visit, receive the latest news from the Children's National press room, or follow us Facebook and Twitter.