Lack of discharge preparedness after NICU hospitalization is associated with risk of readmission and parental stress. Complex infants cared for at regional children’s hospital NICUs would benefit from a systematic approach to transition home. Our objective was to identify potential best practices for NICU discharge and examine priorities for incorporating these best practices in regional children’s hospital NICUs.
We used techniques from quality improvement, including fish bone and key driver diagrams, yielding 52 potential best practice statements for discharge preparation. Using the modified Delphi method, we surveyed stakeholders on their level of agreement for the statement to be included in the final guideline regarding discharge processes and parental education. Consensus was defined as 85% agreement among respondents. To identify implementation feasibility and understand unit-level priorities, a prioritization and feasibility assessment survey was used to rank the top best practices and performed gap analyses for the first prioritized intervention.
Fifty of the 52 statements met the predefined criteria for consensus. The prioritization survey of potential best practice statements named assessment of families’ social determinants of health with a standardized tool as the top priority among respondents. Conducting gap analyses enabled an understanding of current practice, barriers, and affordances, allowing for implementation planning.
This multicenter and interdisciplinary expert panel reached a consensus on multiple potential best practices for complex discharge preparation from regional children’s hospital NICUs. Better support for families navigating the complex NICU discharge process has the potential to improve infant health outcomes.