A Quality-Improvement Initiative to Reduce NICU Transfers for Neonates at Risk for Hypoglycemia

Sherry LeBlanc, Jamie Haushalter, Carl Seashore, Karen S Wood, Michael J Steiner, Ashley G Sutton
Pediatrics 2018, 141 (3)

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Neonatal hypoglycemia is a common problem, often requiring management in the NICU. Nonpharmacologic interventions, including early breastfeeding and skin-to-skin care (SSC), may prevent hypoglycemia and the need to escalate care. Our objective was to maintain mother-infant dyads in the mother-infant unit by decreasing hypoglycemia resulting in NICU transfer.

METHODS: Inborn infants ≥35 weeks' gestation with at least 1 risk factor for hypoglycemia were included. Using quality-improvement methodology, a bundle for at-risk infants was implemented, which included a protocol change focusing on early SSC, early feeding, and obtaining a blood glucose measurement in asymptomatic infants at 90 minutes. The primary outcome was the overall transfer rate of at-risk infants to the NICU. Secondary outcomes were related to protocol adherence. Balancing measures, including the rate of symptomatic hypoglycemia and sepsis evaluations, were monitored. Statistical process control charts using standard interpretation rules were used to monitor for improvement in key aims.

RESULTS: For infants at risk for hypoglycemia, the NICU transfer rate decreased from 17% to 3% overall. Documented early feeding and SSC in at-risk newborns increased. The percent of at-risk infants transferred to the NICU who did not require intravenous dextrose decreased from 5% at baseline to 0.7% after intervention. There were no adverse outcomes observed in the period before or after the intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of a quality-improvement intervention promoting SSC and early feeding in at-risk infants was associated with a decreased rate of transfer to the NICU for hypoglycemia.

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