To investigate nursery practices regarding outpatient recognition of neonatal jaundice.
Random sample of nursery head nurses and pediatricians from national lists.
Nurseries with more than 100 births per year and pediatricians responsible for newborn discharges.
Head nurses from 204 nurseries and 200 pediatricians were surveyed, with 62% of head nurses and 55% of pediatricians responding. Almost half of the head nurses (45%) reported lack of a written neonatal jaundice protocol. Twenty-seven percent of head nurses and pediatricians reported that no system is in place to track jaundiced newborns after discharge. Forty percent of head nurses and 26% of pediatricians reported from higher-risk nurseries, defined as nurseries where more than 25% of mothers did not have a high school diploma or more than 50% of infants were born to single-parent families. These nurseries were no more likely to have a protocol for jaundice management or to use a system to track newborns after discharge. Discharge of most newborns before 36 hours of age was common (70% of head nurses, 62% of pediatricians) and some respondents discharged most newborns before 24 hours of age (16% of head nurses, 12% of pediatricians). For newborns discharged before 24 hours of age, more than half of the nurseries surveyed scheduled follow-up within 2 to 3 days (53% of head nurses, 62% of pediatricians). The likelihood of such follow-up did not differ by type of health care insurance, level of maternal education, percentage of single-parent families, predominance of minority patients, or higher risk as defined above.
In our sample, many nurseries lack parent education, neonatal jaundice protocols, and neonatal jaundice tracking systems. Newborns discharged before 48 hours of age are often not scheduled to be seen by a health care provider within 2 to 3 days, despite American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommending such follow-up.