H. B. 2745
(By Delegates Fleischauer, Mahan, Buchanan, Amores, Smirl, Hutchins and Faircloth)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on Health and Human Resouces then Government Organization.]
A BILL to amend chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article twenty-two-a,
relating to establishing the West Virginia birth score
program; detecting children at high risk for postneonatal
mortality, debilitating conditions and developmental delays;
and legislative intent.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-two-a, to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 22A. BIRTH SCORE PROGRAM.
§16-22A-1. Legislative findings; intent; purpose.
The Legislature hereby finds that until 1984, West Virginia
had one of the highest rates of postneonatal mortality in the
United States, which is defined as infants dying between one
month and one year of age. In the early 1980s, studies in West
Virginia showed that infants at greatest risk of dying during the
first year after birth had poor attendance at regular physician
visits and often received minimal health care. The system for
assessing infants at risk for postneonatal mortality,
debilitating conditions and developmental delays was erratic and
many West Virginia physicians were poorly trained about risk
assessment. Uniform guidelines for at-risk infants to enter care
did not exist.
In 1985, the Birth Scoring System, a cooperative effort
between the division of health and the West Virginia University
department of pediatrics was initiated. The goals of the
scoring system are: (1) To identify newborns at greatest risk
for death between one month and one year of age; and (2) to link
high risk infants with physicians for close follow-up during the
first year of life. Since inception, the birth scoring system
has been expanded to identifying and linking infants at risk for
debilitating conditions and developmental delays with necessary
and available services.
With the success of the birth scoring system at reducing postneonatal mortality rates in the state, it is the intention of
the Legislature to establish the birth score system as a
universal, preventive program to be enacted at the delivery of
each newborn in the state. The purpose of this article is to
ensure that all of the state's birthing hospitals and facilities
adopt and implement this prevention program.
§16-22A-2. Birth score program established.
The state division of health is hereby authorized to
establish and carry out a birth score program designed to combat
postneonatal mortality and to detect debilitating conditions and
possible developmental delays in newborn infants in the state.
The division may propose rules for legislative approval in
accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty- nine-a of this code which are necessary to carry out the program.
The purpose of scoring is to reduce the incidence of postneonatal
mortality and disease by: (1) Identifying newborns at greatest
risk for death between one month and one year of age; and (2)
linking these infants with physicians for close follow-up during
the first year of life.
Birth scoring shall be carried out by trained hospital or
birthing facility personnel immediately after an infant is
§16-22A-3. Birth scoring process.
(a) Any hospital or birthing facility in which an infant is
born, any physician attending the infant, or any other person
attending the infant if not under the care of a physician, shall
require and ensure that the infant is scored for its level of
risk for postneonatal mortality, debilitating conditions and
developmental delays. Any infant delivered at a nonlicensed
facility, including, but not limited to home births, shall be
scored by its primary physician within ten days of birth.
When any infant is determined to be a high score, parents
shall be informed and then linked with a local primary care
physician for a recommended six visits in the first six months of
the infant's life.
(b) The state division of health, in cooperation with other
state departments and agencies, may provide necessary medical and
other referrals for services related to infants determined to be
at high risk for postneonatal mortality and other debilitating
conditions and developmental delays as specified by the state
public health commissioner.
(c) The state public health commissioner may, with the
approval of the secretary of the department of health and human
resources, propose rules for legislative approval in accordance
with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of
this code to implement the provisions of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the Birth
Score Program to detect children at high risk for postneonatal
mortality, debilitating conditions and developmental delays.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.