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J Pediatr. 1995 Aug;127(2):285-90.

Description and evaluation of a program for the early discharge of infants from a neonatal intensive care unit.

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Center for Clinical Effectiveness, University of Cincinnati and Children's Hospital Medical Center, OH, USA.


The effect of a cost-containment program focused on decreasing the lengths of hospital stay of high-risk neonates was assessed by comparison of discharge weights and lengths of stay for 257 study infants, discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after an early-discharge program began, with those of 477 control infants discharged during a prior 1-year period. Demographic data and costs, as well as data on emergency department use and hospital readmissions, were included in the comparisons. There was a significant decrease in mean discharge weight and length of stay for infants in the study group. During a 7-month period, an estimated 2073 days of hospital care and approximately $2,700,000 in hospital charges were saved, or $10,609 per infant discharged. The cost of instituting and maintaining the program was $120,413, or $468 per infant. Seven visits were made to the emergency department by the study infants during the first 14 days after discharge. One infant was readmitted for a 4-day hospital stay for suspected sepsis. Significantly earlier discharge of high-risk neonates produced a decrease in hospital charges without causing excessive morbidity. The success of the program was coincident and presumed related to the institution of multiple elements focused toward family support through early-discharge planning. The reduction in hospital charges was 30 times higher than program expenses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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