Centralized Milk Preparation and Milk Technicians Improve Feed Quality

By Bri Ziganti

centralized milk preparation improves patient care

Read our clinical whitepaper on improving your NICU with centralized milk preparation

Preventing milk misappropriation in the NICU can be a daunting task.  Prematurely born children missed out on weeks of development within the womb, and they need a lot of help to catch up.  Neonatal RNs juggling several high-risk patients aren’t able to devote their full attention to prepping feeds, leaving room for error.  NICUs can eliminate a significant amount of risk by moving away from manual data entry using a barcode tracking and validation system to manage their breastmilk inventory.

However, while implementing a barcode system is a good start, it’s really just the beginning of an efficient and safe workflow.  Stressed nurses will make mistakes when they’re asked to handle feeds, fortifications, breastmilk intake and organization, and administering patient care at one time.  Many NICUs lack the space and time to prepare a feed or fortification without interruption or exposure to other substances.

Why Centralized Milk Preparation and Milk Technicians Improve the NICU:

Several NICUs have recognized the need for better quality control, and have invested in a separate department, called a centralized milk preparation room, to receive, store, process, and prepare expressed breastmilk and formula away from the harried activity of the intensive care unit.  These milk prep labs are run by milk technicians; men and women trained by the hospital to prepare feeds with the proper fortification levels, maintain the NICU’s inventory at the right temperature, and keep each child’s milk supply organized and rotated.  The result?  Compliance with milk identification procedures increased drastically while errors were minimized, while increasing the time nurses had for hands-on care.

In fact, NICUs using a centralized milk preparation room and a dedicated lab staff enjoy:

  • lower costs
  • safer fortifications
  • more accurate feeds
  • higher rates of employee satisfaction
  • less milk waste

Milk technicians and milk prep rooms aren’t yet a common staple of most NICUs.  Admittedly, the cost and time investment to build a completely separate lab and train more employees is intimidating; however, the payoff greatly outweighs the initial costs.  Even NICUs that could only commit to hiring milk technicians and providing them with a mobile cart saw a measurable increase to feed quality and accuracy, and more time spent on patient care.

Paragon is dedicated to improving the outcomes of preemie patients and sending them home sooner to their families.  Eliminating errors through improved workflow is the key to healthy, preemies and happy nurses.  Read our clinical whitepaper on why centralized milk preparation rooms and milk technicians are the optimal set up for efficient, safe NICUs.

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