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Intestinal tissue death - complications of neonatal intensive care

Necrotizing enterocolitis, also called NEC, is the death of intestinal tissue. It is most often seen in premature babies and sick newborns. It is a very serious condition that must be treated aggressively.

NEC has high mortality, and it is associated with increased hospital stays and poor growth and outcome. Though most cases of NEC cannot be prevented, the cases caused by bacteria in the intestine may be preventable.

About this measure

This measure tracks the percentage of very low birth weight babies (3 pounds, 3 ounces or less) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who had NEC. Because the number of infants in this group is very small, a single complication can affect the overall complication rate measurably.

We track this measure through our participation in the Vermont Oxford Network (VON), a voluntary non-profit organization of over 700 neonatal intensive care units. VON is a collaboration dedicated to improving the quality and safety of the care delivered in neonatal intensive care units.

Note: In this case, a lower number is better.