OBJECTIVE:

To assess the association of the introduction of a high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) protocol with clinical outcomes and hospital charges of infants with bronchiolitis initially admitted to the PICU.

METHODS:

We conducted a retrospective, nonrandomized, preintervention-postintervention study of infants with bronchiolitis initially admitted to the PICU for HFNC. We compared patients admitted in the 24 months before and after protocol initiation for HFNC use on the general wards. The primary outcome assessed was length of hospital stay (LOS), and the secondary outcomes included total hospital charges, intubation, and 30-day readmission. We conducted bivariate analysis using χ2 test for categorical variables and Student’s t test or Wilcoxon rank sum test for continuous variables.

RESULTS:

Two hundred and ninety patients were admitted to the PICU on HFNC; 120 patients were admitted before and 170 admitted after the introduction of HFNC use on the general wards. Comparing the 2 groups, the median LOS was significantly reduced (4 days vs 3 days; P < .001), as was the median total hospital charges ($12 257 vs $9337; P < .001). After starting HFNC use on the wards, 30% of patients initially admitted to the PICU were ultimately transferred to the wards while still on HFNC. There was no difference in intubation rate or 30-day readmission between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

For bronchiolitis patients initially admitted to the PICU, initiating a guideline for HFNC use on the general pediatric wards is associated with reduced total hospital LOS and total hospital charges, with no difference in intubation rates or 30-day readmission.

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