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Neonatal respiratory care practice among level III and IV NICUs in New England.

OBJECTIVES: To assess respiratory care guidelines and explore variations in management of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants within a collaborative care framework. Additionally, to gather clinical leaders' perspectives on guidelines and preferences for ventilation modalities.

STUDY DESIGN: Leaders from each NICU participated in a practice survey regarding the prevalence of unit clinical guidelines, and management, at many stages of care.

RESULTS: Units have an average of 4.3 (±2.1) guidelines, of 9 topics queried. Guideline prevalence was not associated with practice or outcomes. An FiO2 requirement of 0.3-0.4 and a CPAP of 6-7 cmH2 O, are the most common thresholds for surfactant administration, which is most often done after intubation, and followed by weaning from ventilatory support. Volume targeted ventilation is commonly used. Extubation criteria vary widely.

CONCLUSIONS: Results identify trends and areas of variation and suggest that the presence of guidelines alone is not predictive of outcome.

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