Risk assessment can reduce newborn readmissions

Assessing late preterm and early term infants for risk of jaundice or feeding problems could reduce the number of babies readmitted within four weeks, a study published in the journal Pediatrics finds.

Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine found 18 percent of the babies discharged over a 10-year period from well-baby nurseries at Utah's Intermountain Healthcare were readmitted within 28 days of discharge. Most were readmitted within two weeks.

The study also showed late preterm and early term newborns had higher readmission rates than term newborns.

Of those readmitted, 41 percent had feeding problems, 35 percent had jaundice and 33 percent were having problems breathing, according to the study abstract. Other major readmission causes included potential sepsis (23 percent) and infection (21 percent), reported Medscape Today.

Because those conditions are potentially preventable, assessing babies at risk for potential problems could reduce readmissions, the researchers found.

The readmissions "may reflect an inadequate assessment of the newborn's readiness for discharge, a lack of resources and/or an inability of a parent to provide early newborn care, or inappropriate and/or untimely availability of, or access to, outpatient care,"  the authors write, according to Medscape Today.

Meanwhile, a push is underway to significantly reduce the number of elective early deliveries, which advocates say put babies at unnecessary risk of medical complications. Leapfrog Group says reducing the average rate of elective early deliveries from 14 percent in 2011 to 1.7 percent could save hospitals nearly $1 billion annually.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the Medscape Today article