Thank You, Nursing Mothers!

Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babiesCHOC_Breast_Milk_bank receiving care at CHOC.

Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women can donate their extra breast milk in the name of CHOC to help premature and sick babies.

Oftentimes, women who give birth prematurely have difficulty nursing, so donations help ensure infants in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit have access to breast milk. This is an excellent way for women with extra milk to help ensure babies have bright futures.

The program allows women to pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company for processing and safety testing. After it’s pasteurized and standardized, the milk gets sent to CHOC.

On behalf of CHOC physicians and nurses, I thank the mothers who help care for the hospital’s tiniest patients in their own special way.

Learn more about how you can contribute to CHOC’s breast milk donation program.

Donating Breast Milk to CHOC

CHOC Children’s has long relied on donated pasteurized breast milk to help provide the best nutrition to infants receiving care in its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

And starting this summer, CHOC is initiating a breast milk donation service that CHOC_Breastmilk_bankwill allow women to donate extra breast milk in the name of CHOC.

Under the program, women pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company, Prolacta Bioscience, for processing and safety testing. After pasteurizing and standardizing, Prolacta sends the finished product to CHOC.

Under the program, CHOC will be able to maintain an adequate supply of donor milk, regardless of the how many local women donate, says Dr. Christine Bixby, a CHOC neonatologist.

“CHOC was probably one of the earliest adopters of using donor milk in our preterm population,” she says. “The trend is to use donor milk and this is approaching a standard of care where if you do not have maternal milk, you use donor milk for the preterm babies.”

Dr. Bixby hopes that the new program will help encourage more women to donate milk, especially because they know their milk will help babies in their local community.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know what to do with their extra milk,” she says. “So, any moms who have too much milk can look into donating it, rather than throwing it out. These babies can really benefit from the donor milk and it’s a limited resource. This would be a great gift.”

Medical experts have found that donor human milk is an excellent alternative to a mother’s breast milk, and that premature babies tolerate donated human milk better than formula.

“The data is quite strong in the use of a human milk-based diet,” says Dr. Bixby.  “There’s a lot about breast milk that is so much better than formula.”

Learn more about our breast milk donation program.

Related articles:

  • Meet Dr. Christine Bixby
    CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her ...
  • World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7
    By Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), below are some helpful guidelines for working moms who wish to breastfeed. WBW is celebrated ...
  • Thank You, Nursing Mothers!
    Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babies receiving care at CHOC. Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women ...

 

New Process Leads to Safer Breast Milk Handling

20130423_0279 CHOC Children’s is seeing fewer breast milk feeding errors after a more than two-year initiative to redesign the process for safer and more efficient handling.

With very few government regulations in place, hospitals across the country struggle to establish best practices in handling breast milk, and CHOC is no different. Busy nurses are often tasked with collecting, labeling, inventorying and distributing dozens of bottles during a shift, amidst other critical responsibilities.

“Our nurses are doing a multitude of highly important things, often being pulled in many directions at once,” said Caroline Steele, director of CHOC’s Clinical Nutrition & Lactation Services. “Without good support and a better system in place, there was potential for interruptions and errors.”

In June 2011, CHOC’s Joint Leadership Committee formed a process improvement team, including a physician co-chair and representatives from each inpatient nursing unit, Clinical Nutrition and Lactation, Quality and Transport. The team reviewed data from the previous 12 months and identified possible handling errors, such as storage problems, incorrect labels and instances of patients receiving the wrong milk.

Breast milk errors can spread diseases and20130423_0293 infections and, in some cases, are reportable events to the California Department of Public Health. If the wrong milk is handed to a mother who then views a patient’s private information on the label, that event would be a reportable breach of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well.

A New Method

In January 2013, the team moved milk preparation to a centralized location. The existing formula room was repurposed to accommodate both formula and breast milk preparation. Now referred to as the Nutrition Lab, it houses a breast milk freezer and a commercial dishwasher and is staffed with registered dietetic technicians. CHOC also operates a satellite nutrition lab in the CHOC Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Joseph Hospital.

CHOC then secured a $190,000 grant from UniHealth to purchase the Timeless™ Breast milk Tracking system. The software uses unique barcode identifiers to ensure babies are matched with the correct milk, and that the milk has not expired. The system launched in November 2013 in the NICU, medical and surgical units, neuroscience unit, oncology unit, pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the hospital’s Orange campus.

Nurses previously fortified and prepared milk themselves at the bedside – a contamination risk – and then had to ask a second nurse to verify the accuracy of it at every step. That accuracy check is now done automatically.

“It used to take at least an hour to make your shift’s worth of milk,” NICU nurse Jenn Landman said. “That’s an hour you can spend with a baby’s family or do extra things, like bath time or a ‘spa day’ with a baby. It’s much more meaningful work.”

Now, when a mother checks in with her baby, a nurse prints labels for the breast milk expressed during their stay and scans the baby’s armband to verify the labels are correct. The mother attaches a label to a filled bottle, which is transferred to the Nutrition Lab for inventorying and storage. The lab’s technicians fortify the milk per doctor’s orders and deliver 12 hours worth of feedings back to the units twice a day.20130423_0267

All information about the milk is documented in the baby’s medical record.

In the first two months of the barcode program, 11,232 breast milk feedings were prepared by the Nutrition Lab, with 100 percent compliance to scanning in the lab and 97 percent compliance on the units.

“This gives moms that sense of security that human error has been taken out of the equation,” Landman said.

Next Steps

CHOC’s efforts have been noticed. The California Department of Public Health has commended the program and has asked Steele to train registered dietitian surveyors across the state on proper breast milk handling.

Meanwhile, plans are being made to implement the barcode system at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital, and the team hopes to purchase software to track formula, as well. They are seeking additional grant funding.

Starting this month, CHOC will also conduct a study that uses a new analyzer to identify the components of a mother’s milk, rather than assuming it contains generalized amounts of nutrients. That will make the fortification process more accurate, making sure babies are getting exactly what they need.

“We are always looking at ways that we can make our hospital safer and ultimately a better experience for the patient and family,” Steele said.

Related articles:

  • Meet Dr. Christine Bixby
    CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her ...
  • World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7
    By Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), below are some helpful guidelines for working moms who wish to breastfeed. WBW is celebrated ...
  • Thank You, Nursing Mothers!
    Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babies receiving care at CHOC. Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women ...