To improve outcomes in infants with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) admitted to NICU by implementing a quality improvement (QI) initiative incorporating “eat, sleep, console” (ESC) as a withdrawal evaluation tool and promotion of nonpharmacological interventions. Secondarily, we evaluated the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on QI initiative and outcomes.
We included infants born ≥ 36 weeks gestation and admitted to NICU with a primary diagnosis of NOWS between December 2017 and February 2021. (preintervention; December 2017–January 2019, postintervention; February 2019–February 2021). We compared cumulative dose, duration of opioid treatment, and length of stay (LOS) as our primary outcomes.
The average duration of opioid treatment decreased from 18.6 days in the preimplementation cohort (n = 36) to 1.5 days in the first-year postimplementation (n = 44) with a reduction in cumulative opioid dose from 5.8 mg/kg to 0.6 mg/kg and decrease in the proportion of infants treated with opioids from 94.2% to 41.1%. Similarly, the average LOS decreased from 26.6 to 7.6 days. In the second-year postimplementation during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (n = 24), there was an increase in average opioid treatment duration and LOS to 5.1 and 12.3 days respectively, but cumulative opioid dose (0.8 mg/kg) remained significantly lower than the preimplementation cohort.
ESC-based quality improvement initiative led to a significant decrease in LOS and opioid pharmacotherapy in infants with NOWS in NICU setting. Despite the impact of the pandemic, some of the gains were sustained with adaptation to ESC QI initiative.