A nurse-initiated jaundice management protocol improves quality of care in the paediatric emergency department

Hyperbilirubinemia is a common neonatal condition requiring timely management to prevent acute bilirubin encephalopathy. Management protocols allow nonphysicians to initiate designated actions prior to physician assessment.

To assess the effectiveness of a nurse-initiated neonatal jaundice management protocol for serum bilirubin sampling and phototherapy for neonates presenting with hyperbilirubinemia to the Paediatric Emergency Department (PED).

A health records review was performed for jaundiced neonates 12 months prior to the introduction of the management protocol (control period) and 12 months after (intervention period). Randomly selected charts were evaluated for time to serum bilirubin sampling, phototherapy initiation, ED length of stay, admission rate, completion of direct antiglobulin test and nursing documentation.

Two hundred and sixty-six neonates (131 control and 135 intervention) were included. Median time to serum bilirubin sampling was reduced by 22% (36 min versus 28 min; P<0.001) with 34 min difference at the 90th percentile (94 min [95% confidence interval (CI) 63.7 to 116.9] versus 60 min [95% CI 49.0 to 78.2]). Statistically significant improvements were found in time to phototherapy initiation (127 min [95% CI 72.0 to 160.7] versus 65 min [95% CI 50.0 to 72.4] at 90th percentile), ED length of stay (267 min [95% CI 180.9 to 292.9] versus 216 min [95% CI 171.1 to 247.4] at 90th percentile) and hospital admissions (36% versus 17%; P<0.001). Improvements were also observed in direct antiglobulin test measurement (P<0.001) and nursing documentation (P=0.017)

Implementation of a PED neonatal jaundice management protocol was associated with improved timeliness and standardization of care for this common and important condition.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Private: Michelle Long

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Roger Zemek

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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