What does being a Level 4 NICU mean?


2K14-04520PVK_3931 Dr. Amy Hair examines newborn Carter Hawkins in NICU

As any parent knows, when you have a new baby there is so much to learn. Every baby is different and your life with a new child can, at times, be overwhelming. This is especially true for families who find themselves in need of specialized care for their newborn or infant.

When you learn your child needs the care only available in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you may wonder how to begin the daunting task of identifying the right NICU and team. As we’ve shared before, not all NICUs are created equal.

While the best time to determine where you want your baby treated is during pregnancy, we know for many families a NICU stay is not something they ever anticipated. So, how do you know which NICU provides the right resources and expertise to care for newborns? How do you know which NICU provides the best possible outcomes, especially for the most critically-ill?

The State of Texas passed legislation requiring all NICUs to undergo a site visit to verify they meet the Neonatal Levels of Care classifications as defined in the Texas Administrative Code.

Texas Children’s NICU is the first to be designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a level IV NICU, something we are very proud of. This is the highest level of care available for premature and critically-ill newborns.

A level IV NICU designation must meet all level III capabilities, plus have the ability to care for infants born earlier than 32 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1,500 grams, provide life support, perform advanced imaging including MRI and echocardiography, and provide a full range of respiratory support, among many other criteria.

As the largest NICU in the nation caring for the most fragile infants, we know getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place is critical.

Our team continuously strives to innovate and improve patient care by undertaking countless quality improvement initiatives so babies receive evidence-based care, resulting in the most optimal outcome. For patient families, this designation means you can be confident we have the expertise to care for the most critically-ill child.

To learn more, visit our Newborn Center.