At the time of discharge from the NICU, many infants have ongoing complex medical issues that will require coordinated, multispecialty follow-up. Discharge planning and transfer of care for infants with medical complexity require a multidisciplinary team effort that begins early during the NICU hospitalization. It is critical that the primary care physician is involved in this process because he or she will serve as the chief communicator and coordinator of care after discharge. Although some infants with medical complexity may be followed in specialized multidisciplinary NICU follow-up clinics, these are not universally available. The responsibility then falls to the primary care physician to coordinate with different subspecialties based on the infant’s needs. Many infants with medical complexity are technology-dependent at the time of discharge and may require home oxygen, ventilators, monitors, or tube feeding. Prematurity, critical illness, and prolonged NICU hospitalization that lead to medical complexity also increase the risk of neurodevelopmental delay or impairment. As such, these infants will not only require routine developmental surveillance and screening by the primary care physician but also should be followed longitudinally by a neurodevelopmental specialist, either a developmental-behavioral pediatrician or a neonatologist with experience in neurodevelopmental assessment.
Discharge of Medically Complex Infants and Developmental Follow-up
Drs Connors, Havranek, and Campbell have disclosed no financial relationships relevant to this article. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
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Jillian Connors, Tomas Havranek, Deborah Campbell; Discharge of Medically Complex Infants and Developmental Follow-up. Pediatr Rev June 2021; 42 (6): 316–328. https://doi.org/10.1542/pir.2020-000638
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