In 2019, the Duke Safe Sleep Task Force was formed. This group of physicians and nurses from across all pediatric units at Duke University Hospital (DUH) came together to focus on the safe sleep of patients under one year old.
The goal was to ensure the safety of young patients while working towards earning the safe sleep designation from the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program. The first step was creating a safe sleep policy each pediatric unit would follow.
“Every unit has different needs," said Kristina Nazareth-Pidgeon, MD, DUH pediatric hospitalist and co-chair of the Duke Safe Sleep Task Force. “The fact that we as a hospital were able to come together to create a single policy requiring babies to be properly swaddled and placed on their back in empty, flat cribs, that worked for each unit is amazing."
In addition to the policy, staff education on safe sleep was required for all pediatric nurses and parental education became required before discharge.
“Parental education can make a huge impact in the lives of both parents and their babies," said Nazareth-Pidgeon. “It can be completely overwhelming taking a baby home for the first time. We want to empower parents at home through modeling the correct methods while they are with us in the hospital."
“Some of our kids have chest tubes and lines so there's a lot going on medically that we have to deal with," said Safe Sleep Task Force member Meghann McCoy, BSN, RN, CPN, neurodevelopmental nurse clinician with Duke Children's Pediatric & Congenital Heart Center. “When babies are getting ready to be discharged we need to educate parents on how to best care for them. Safe sleep education gives families more confidence going home. We are setting them up for success."
Sophie Shaikh, MD, co-chair of the Duke Safe Sleep Task Force and medical director of the Newborn Nursery at DUH and Duke Regional Hospital, is proud that Duke is so committed to preventing accidental sleep-related deaths in infants.
“We came together and created a policy that worked for all," said Shaikh. “Everyone was very on board and I'm really pleased with what the group has accomplished. This certification shows what a commitment Duke is making to infant safety and a reason parents may choose Duke over other hospitals in the area."