OBJECTIVE: The survival rates for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants have improved, but many are discharged from the hospital with significant challenges. Our goal was to improve outcomes for this population by using a multidisciplinary team–based quality improvement approach.
METHODS: A unique program called the Small Baby Unit (SBU) was established in a children’s hospital to care for the ELBW infant born at 28 weeks or less and weighing less than 1000 g at birth. These patients were cared for in a separate location from the main neonatal unit. A core multidisciplinary team that participates in ongoing educational and process-improvement collaboration provides care. Evidence-based guidelines and checklists standardized the approach.
RESULTS: Data from the 2 years before and 4 years after opening the SBU are included. There was a reduction in chronic lung disease from 47.5% to 35.4% (P = .097). The rate of hospital-acquired infection decreased from 39.3% to 19.4% (P < .001). Infants being discharged with growth restriction (combined weight and head circumference <10th percentile) decreased from 62.3% to 37.3% (P = .001). Reduced resource utilization was demonstrated as the mean number per patient of laboratory tests decreased from 224 to 82 (P < .001) and radiographs decreased from 45 to 22 (P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: Care in a distinct unit by a consistent multidisciplinary SBU team using quality improvement methods improved outcomes in ELBW infants. Ongoing team engagement and development are required to sustain improved outcomes.
- Accepted April 13, 2015.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics