Care for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a postnatal drug withdrawal syndrome, remains variable. We designed and implemented a multicenter quality improvement collaborative for infants with NAS. Our objective was to determine if the collaborative was effective in standardizing hospital policies and improving patient outcomes.
From 2012 to 2014, data were collected through serial cross-sectional audits of participating centers. Hospitals assessed institutional policies and patient-level data for infants with NAS requiring pharmacotherapy, including length of pharmacologic treatment and length of hospital stay (LOS). Models were fit, clustered according to hospital, to evaluate changes in patient outcomes over time.
Among 199 participating centers, the mean number of NAS-focused guidelines increased from 3.7 to 5.1 of a possible 6 (P < .001), with improvements noted in all measured domains. Among infants cared for at participating centers, decreases occurred in median (interquartile range) length of pharmacologic treatment, from 16 days (10 to 27 days) to 15 days (10 to 24 days; P = .02), and LOS from 21 days (14 to 33 days) to 19 days (15 to 28 days; P = .002). In addition, there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of infants discharged on medication for NAS, from 39.7% to 26.5% (P = .02). After adjusting for potential confounders, standardized NAS scoring process was associated with shorter LOS (–3.3 days,95% confidence interval, –4.9 to –1.4).
Involvement in a multicenter, multistate quality improvement collaborative focused on infants requiring pharmacologic treatment for NAS was associated with increases in standardizing hospital patient care policies and decreases in health care utilization.