Pediatrics: Preparing for Discharge from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

SOURCE: Munish Gupta, DeWayne M. Pursley, Vincent C. SmithPreparing for Discharge From the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatrics, Jun 2019, 143 (6) e20182915; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-2915

BACKGROUND: Discharge readiness is a key determinant of outcomes for families in the NICU. Since 2003, using a broad set of outcome and process measures, we have conducted an ongoing quality improvement initiative to improve the discharge preparation process in our NICU and readiness of families being discharged from the NICU.

METHODS: Iterative improvements to the discharge preparation process were made by a multidisciplinary committee. Discharge readiness was measured by using a parental and nurse survey for all families discharged from our NICU. Primary outcome measures included parental self-assessment of discharge readiness and nurse assessment of the family’s emotional and technical discharge readiness. Secondary outcome measures included assessment of specific technical skills and emotional factors. Process measures included nursing familiarity with family at discharge. Improvement over time was analyzed by using statistical process control charts.

RESULTS: Significant improvement was seen in all primary outcome measures. Family self-assessment of discharge readiness increased from 85.1% to 89.1%; nurse assessment of the family’s emotional discharge readiness increased from 81.2% to 90.5%, and technical discharge readiness increased from 81.4% to 87.7%. Several secondary outcome measures revealed significant improvement, whereas most remained stable. Nurse familiarity with the family at discharge increased over time.

CONCLUSIONS: Quality improvement methodology can be used to measure and improve discharge readiness of families with an infant in the NICU. This model can provide the necessary framework for a structured approach to systematically evaluating and improving the discharge preparation process in a NICU.

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