Early Discharge for Preterm Infants Partially Tube Feeding

King, Andrea
Blamires, Julie
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Master of Health Practice in Child Health
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Auckland University of Technology

Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Special Care Baby Units (SCBU) around the world have adopted the practice of discharging late preterm infants home partially tube feeding, enabling infants to complete the transition to full oral feeds at home. The detrimental effects separation has on mental health and the parent-infant attachment when infants remain in neonatal units is well researched, thus getting infants home to their natural environment as soon as possible is crucial to reduce long term implications of prolonged NICU stays.

The aim of this project was to develop a pathway for earlier discharge for pre-term infants partially tube feeding. Early discharge support packages implemented within New Zealand and internationally were reviewed and used as a guide to tailor a package for a Special Care Baby Unit in Hawkes Bay hospital. The potential financial gains of discharging infants’ home two weeks earlier was illustrated by comparing home visits to hospital stays. The support networks within Hawke Bay Special Care Baby unit were discussed, outlining what each service can provide with the aim of creating a collaborative and supportive pathway for infants and their families in the community.

To guide this project, Rosswurm and Larrabee’s (1999) model for change to evidence-based practice was utilised. Moving through the steps of this model, an early discharge pilot proposal was developed along with key stakeholders to explore what input and timeframes each service can provide necessary to assess the feasibility of implementing this proposed practice change in our unit.

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