OBJECTIVES: To report the results of and to identify problems with implementing a screening program to detect critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) in newborns by using differential pulse oximetry (POx).
METHODS: Charts of all live-born infants from 4 Yale-New Haven health system hospitals in Connecticut between January 1 and December 31, 2014, were reviewed.
RESULTS: Of 10 589 newborns, 171 (1.6%) underwent an echocardiogram before screening, 10 320 (97.5%) were screened by POx, and 98 (0.9%) were not screened. Thirteen newborns (0.1%) were diagnosed with a CCHD. No infants with CCHDs were identified through POx screening (POxS) alone. Eleven (85%) were already suspected of having a CCHD lesion on the basis of prenatal ultrasound, 1 (8%) was diagnosed because of clinical concern before undergoing screening, and 1 (8%) had a false-negative screening result, but a CCHD was identified after an echocardiogram was performed because a murmur was heard. Four infants with a positive POx screen showed noncritical cardiac lesions by echocardiogram. The majority of infants were screened within the recommended 24 to 72 hours of age interval and had POx screens that were interpreted and documented correctly. Of 10 316 infants with negative POx screens, 52.1% were still in the Yale-New Haven Hospital health system at 1 year of age and no CCHD lesions were listed in their charts.
CONCLUSIONS: Although a CCHD screening program was effectively implemented, perhaps because most children with a CCHD (85%) were detected antenatally by ultrasound, in our hospital system POxS did not lead to a substantial increase in the early identification of CCHDs.