Improving the “Bottom-Line”

Financial Justification for the Hospital-Based Lactation Consultant Role

Shannon Francis-Clegg, Deanne T. Francis
Intermountain Healthcare Lactation Standardization Project (2007)
Clinical Lactation, 2011, Vol. 2(1), 19-25


Intermountain Healthcare’s Lactation Standards Team conducted a year-long indepth study to evaluate their current lactation services for staffing, patient satisfaction, patient and staff education, reimbursement patterns, cost of care and lactation-failure readmissions. The attempt was to evaluate and then standardize the lactation services within their 23-hospital system and create staffing recommendations to support optimal lactation care and support. This article represents a brief summary of recommendations based on this study. Individual portions of the project with detailed process and final results/data will be submitted for future publication.

Most government, private healthcare organizations, national professional associations and a majority of the general public, acknowledge that breastfeeding is the normal, standard, and optimal way to feed the human infant (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005; American Academy of Family Physicians, 2010; American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, 2007; Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses, 2010; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

However, in the current healthcare environment, some organizations are cutting lactation services in an attempt to improve their financial “bottom line.” This is being done despite the fact that well-documented data shows that sub-optimal U.S. breastfeeding rates are linked to excess costs and infant deaths. A recent study by Bartick and Reinhold (2010) shows that if 90% of U.S. families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, potential U.S. savings of $13 billion per year and prevention of an excess of 911 deaths could be realized.

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