Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia is a common reason for neonates to present to the emergency department (ED). Although clinical practice guidelines provide recommendations for evaluation and therapy, few studies have evaluated ways to apply them effectively in the ED setting. The primary objective of this study was to compare time to phototherapy in neonates presenting to the ED with jaundice before and after implementation of a nursing-initiated clinical pathway. Secondary outcomes included time to bilirubin result and ED length of stay in neonates.


We performed a retrospective historical control study comparing neonates presenting to the ED with jaundice during 9-month periods before and after initiation of the pathway. Charts were abstracted for times of assessment and treatment and final disposition.


Three hundred neonates were included in this study: 149 before and 151 after pathway implementation. Median time to phototherapy (historical control: 128 minutes vs postintervention group: 52 minutes; P < .001), median time to bilirubin result (157 vs 99; P < .001), and median ED length of stay (268 minutes vs 195 minutes; P < .001) were shorter for neonates treated after the implementation of the clinical pathway. No complications were reported during the study period.


After implementation of a clinical pathway for the management of neonates with jaundice in the ED, we observed a reduction in time to phototherapy, time to bilirubin measurement, and overall length of stay.

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