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Midwifery. 1991 Mar;7(1):20-4.

Surfactant replacement therapy for severe neonatal respiratory distress syndrome: implications for nursing care.


This study, which was part of a European multicentre randomised controlled trial of surfactant administration for severe respiratory distress syndrome, monitored the progress and nursing care of the group of babies enrolled in Belfast. In total 33 preterm babies with birth weights between 700-2000 g were studied. Nineteen babies were treated with surfactant and fourteen acted as controls, receiving conventional therapy with mechanical ventilation alone. All the babies had severe respiratory distress syndrome requiring mechanical ventilation in oxygen concentrations greater than 60% by the age of fifteen hours. The aim of the study was to determine the effect on nursing workload of giving surfactant to babies with severe respiratory distress syndrome. The duration of care, such as the length of time the babies required intensive care and subsequent hospitalisation was calculated for each baby. The characteristics of the treated and control babies were similar but survival in the treated group was significantly greater (79% vs 36%, p less than 0.05). There were no significant differences between the groups for individual nursing requirements. However due to the increase in numbers of surviving surfactant treated babies there was a threefold increase in cumulative nursing workload. Surfactant replacement therapy effectively modifies the course of respiratory distress syndrome but also increases the nursing workload and the need for intensive care. This has implications for staffing and financial support of Neonatal Intensive Care Units once surfactant replacement becomes a routine treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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