Behind the “screen”: Champions for newborn hearing health

May 17, 2018 | by MEDNAX
Behind the “screen”: Champions for newborn hearing health

In honor of Better Hearing & Speech Month, we’ll take a look behind the newborn hearing screen and see what the Pediatrix Newborn Hearing Screen Program (NHSP) is all about.

Hearing loss is estimated to be one of the most common birth conditions affecting 1-4 babies per 1000 births. Today nearly every state requires that hospitals offer hearing screens for newborns prior to discharge. Before early hearing screen services were mandated by law, babies with hearing loss could go undiagnosed for months or even years after birth, losing precious time for intervention opportunities.

However, it takes more than a screen to build an early identification success story.  The goal of the Pediatrix NHSP is to support early identification and early intervention through collaboration, communication and parental support/guidance.

It all starts with the hearing screen and the hearing screen staff

After the baby is born in a partner hospital, one of our trained hearing screen staff members will screen the baby’s hearing bedside in the primary caregiver’s room (unless conditions do not permit) to determine if the baby is at risk for hearing loss.  Screens are performed in the room in support of the Baby Friendly initiative and to improve the education and communication with the family. To ensure all newborns are screened, the hearing screen team is available 365 days a year, including holidays, and screen as soon as possible after birth to avoid interfering with the hospital discharge process.  Additionally, a Pediatrix NHSP proprietary parent education video is available in 21 languages, including American Sign Language, for bedside viewing.

The hearing screen staff member is an extremely important part of the process and patient experience, as is the site coordinator.  The site coordinator is responsible for the implementation of the program at each partner hospital, as well as day-to-day operations, including HR matters, employee training and state reporting. Site coordinators help connect families with audiology providers and hearing loss resources in the area, when needed, and monitor the follow up process. Being there to assist the families on follow up for babies who do not pass the screen and/or have risk factors for hearing loss is a critical piece of the puzzle and key differentiator of the Pediatrix NHSP. The on-site hearing screen staff provides education to help ensure families understand the benefits of the screen and importance of follow up and intervention if a baby does not pass.

Success is a team effort

Since hearing screen staff and site coordinators are on site, they may be the most visible members of the hearing screen team – but there are a variety of other people involved in the process at the local, regional and national level.

Once the hearing screen is complete, the results must be reported to the state, in accordance with each state’s guidelines. Results from babies screened are stored in our proprietary data management system called Soundata®. Currently, Soundata stores clinical data on over six million babies, including more than 53,000 babies who did not pass their hearing screen and required additional testing. The Pediatrix NHSP team includes database administrators, operations analysts, clinical experts and others who provide analysis and trending for quality improvement. Not only does Soundata help fulfill reporting requirements, it also helps maintain the quality of the program.

But it doesn’t end there.

We offer continuity of screening through the national program

With a program in place at over 400+ hospitals in 30+ states, responsible for 800,000+ newborn hearing screens each year, we rely on a diverse group of experts to maintain a consistent program across the country. Regional Hearing Screen Leadership oversees daily operations and ensures a high-quality program.  Not only does leadership monitor program quality but they focus on communication with hospital partners, parents, physicians and stakeholders while ensuring compliance with federal, state, hospital and company regulations.

On a national level, the director of operations, clinical manager, financial and operations analysts, audiologists and physicians provide oversight, support and guidance to our regional operations teams, collaboratively working together to improve the lives of children with hearing loss through early detection and intervention. 

For more information about Better Hearing and Speech Month, visit

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