New law requires heart screening for newborns

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Starting January 1, newborns in the state of Tennessee must have a screening for heart disease before they head home.

In a state law passed last session, all birthing centers are now required to use a pulse oximetry screening to check for critical congenital heart disease in infants.    

We're told the procedure uses oxygen levels and pulse rates to detect signs and symptoms of heart problems sometimes found in newborn babies.

"It's a great tool for prevention. It's nice to have something that is not invasive that you can do in the hospital while you're already there. [It] just takes a few minutes, and that can prevent anything from happening in the future," said Lindsey Smith, a registered nurse at Bristol Regional Medical Center.

Smith said the test is done on babies at least 24 hours old before they are discharged from the hospital.

We learned Bristol Regional Medical Center has already been screening babies before this law went into effect.

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