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Clin Perinatol. 1998 Sep;25(3):539-53, vii-viii.

Early discharge. Risks, benefits, and who decides.

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Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, USA.


Over the last several decades, there has been a significant decrease in the length of hospital stays for mothers and their newborns, ranging from the average of 7 to 10 days before World War II to approximately 2 days in recent years. Many women saw the benefit of early discharge as a means to demedicalize the birth process, to be home with their families sooner, and to have their deliveries be a more positive experience. Although the trend toward shorter hospital stays was originally initiated by consumer interest, the recent further shortening of maternity stays has escalated as a result of insurance and managed care plans attempting to contain health care costs. With this trend toward earlier discharge, a litany of problems have been reported, including missed newborn screening, jaundice, feeding problems, missed congenital anomalies, and readmissions. Although cost-efficient use of health care is vital, the ultimate goal should not only be the prevention of unnecessary morbidity and mortality, but the promotion of health and well being for the child and family.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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