I Received Tips to Look Into How a New Mexico Hospital Treated Premature Babies. Getting Data Was Nearly Impossible.

This article is copublished with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. It’s not unusual for health care reporters to get out-of-the-blue calls or emails from people in the industry. But when three clinicians from Albuquerque hospitals reached out to me to share concerns about the state’s largest for-profit maternity hospital, Lovelace Women’s, I took note. Two of the tipsters worked at Lovelace. None knew the others had contacted me, but all three had concerns about how Lovelace cared for its most premature babies. 

These delicate preemies are frequently born weighing less than 2 pounds.

Los dos hospitales tienen tasas de mortalidad infantil similares, hasta que se observa a los bebés extremadamente prematuros

Read in English. Nota: Este reportaje contiene la descripción de la muerte de un recién nacido. ProPublica es un medio independiente y sin ánimo de lucro que produce periodismo de investigación en pro del interés público. Suscríbete para recibir sus historias en español por correo electrónico. New Mexico In Depth es miembro de ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Era el cambio de turno de la mañana en el Hospital de Mujeres Lovelace de Albuquerque, Nuevo México.

Cómo investigamos las tasas de mortalidad de los bebés extremadamente prematuros en los hospitales de maternidad más grandes de este estado

Read in English. ProPublica es un medio independiente y sin ánimo de lucro que produce periodismo de investigación en pro del interés público. Suscríbete para recibir sus historias en español por correo electrónico. New Mexico In Depth es miembro de ProPublica Local Reporting Network. En una investigación que llevaron a cabo New Mexico In Depth y ProPublica durante un año, se descubrió que los bebés más pequeños y prematuros nacidos en el Hospital de Mujeres Lovelace de Albuquerque, morían en proporciones dobles que los de otro hospital situado a pocos kilómetros de distancia, el Hospital Presbiteriano (Presbyterian Hospital). 

Los dos hospitales tienen tasas de mortalidad infantil similares, hasta que se observa a los bebés extremadamente prematuros

El hospital Lovelace, institución con fines de lucro, y el Presbyterian, organización sin fines de lucro, son los mayores centros de maternidad de Nuevo México. Fuentes de los datos

Los datos más completos sobre los resultados hospitalarios de bebés recién nacidos quedan recopilados en la Red Oxford Vermont (Vermont Oxford Network, VON), una colaboración internacional de investigación de unidades de cuidados intensivos neonatales.

No One in New Mexico Is Officially Tracking the Quality of Care in Neonatal Centers

This article is copublished with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. New Mexico parents worrying over the health of an extremely preterm baby have another reason to be concerned: Their state government provides almost no oversight of the care provided by neonatal intensive care units. Thirty-one states, including neighboring Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, have laws or rules requiring oversight of neonatal intensive care hospitals, according to a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Some of these states make sure that hospitals provide care at the levels they claim to, and some periodically review data on patient admissions, transfers and outcomes to identify potential problems.

Some states, like California, do both. New Mexico does neither. 

The federal government does not set standards for NICUs.

Two New Mexico Hospitals Have Similar Infant Death Rates — Until You Look at Extremely Premature Babies

Note: This story contains a description of the death of an infant. This article is copublished with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. It was morning shift change at Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the neonatal intensive care unit, the lights were dimmed, as usual.

How We Investigated Death Rates for Extremely Preterm Babies in New Mexico’s Largest Maternity Hospitals

This article is copublished with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. A New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica investigation found that the tiniest, most premature babies born at Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque died at higher rates than they did at a hospital a few miles away, Presbyterian. 

Two New Mexico Hospitals Have Similar Infant Death Rates — Until You Look at Extremely Premature Babies

The for-profit Lovelace and nonprofit Presbyterian are New Mexico’s largest maternity centers. 

Data Sources

The most comprehensive data on newborn hospital outcomes is collected by the Vermont Oxford Network, or VON, an international neonatal intensive care unit research collaborative. VON maintains patient-level intake and care data for member NICUs, including those at Lovelace, Presbyterian and the University of New Mexico Hospital. The data can be used to calculate death rates at individual hospitals.

A Hospital Was Accused of Racially Profiling Native American Women. Staff Said Administrators Hid the Evidence.

This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Sign up to receive ProPublica’s biggest stories as soon as they’re published. And sign up to receive New Mexico In Depth stories here. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal regulators are ramping up scrutiny of a prominent women’s hospital here after clinicians’ allegations that Native Americans had been racially profiled for extra COVID-19 screening, leading to the temporary separation of some mothers from their newborns. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will refer findings from state investigators about a violation of patient rights at Lovelace Women’s Hospital to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, state officials said. The state Department of Health declined to specify details of the violations it had found.

State investigating hospital with coronavirus policy that profiled pregnant Native American mothers and separated them from newborns

This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Sign up to receive ProPublica’s biggest stories as soon as they’re published. And sign up to receive New Mexico In Depth stories here. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Twitter Saturday that state officials would investigate allegations of racial profiling of pregnant Native American women at a top hospital in Albuquerque. 

Lujan Grisham was reacting to a story published Saturday by New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica revealing that Lovelace Women’s Hospital had a secret policy for screening Native American women for coronavirus based on their appearance and home ZIP code, according to several clinicians who work there. 

Described as racial profiling by medical ethicists, the policy resulted in some Native American women being separated from their newborns at birth as hospital staff waited for test results, according to the clinicians. “These are significant, awful allegations and, if true, a disgusting and unforgivable violation of patient rights,” Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, wrote. “The state of New Mexico is investigating whether this constitutes a CMS violation and will unequivocally hold this hospital accountable.”

CMS, or the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, regulates hospitals to ensure that all patients have access to medical care.