Impact of a neuro-intensive care service for newborns

Harbert, M.J.*, Sey, R., Arnell, K., Salinda, L., Brown, M.K., Lazarus, D., Poeltler, D.M., Wozniak, P.R., Rasmussen, M.R. | JNPM 2018;

Advances in treating the injured neonatal brain have given rise to neuro-intensive care services for newborns. This study assessed the impact of one such service in a cohort of newborns treated with therapeutic hypothermia.
METHODS: Our newborn neuro-intensive care service was started in November 2012. From January 2008 to October 2016, a cohort of 158 newborns was treated with therapeutic hypothermia, 29 before and 129 after the inception of the service. This study compared the outcomes of newborns treated by the service with those of newborns treated before. Multivariate regression analysis associating length-of-stay and treatment pre- or post-service was adjusted for five-minute Apgar score, time-to-target temperature, seizures, and mortality.
RESULTS: The neuro-intensive care service was also associated with a decrease in mortality (17% before service to 5.4% with the service, p = 0.03), though this association is likely multifactorial and reflects the application of therapeutic hypothermia to a wider variety of patients. However, the service was independently associated with decreased length-of-stay (mean 22 pre-service to 13 days with the service, p < 0.0005.)
CONCLUSIONS: The service educated referring hospitals in recognizing therapeutic hypothermia candidates, which increased the number of treated newborns, and created a number of procedures to streamline the delivery of treatment. While the increasing number and variety of patients treated could spuriously reduce length-of-stay, length-of-stay was still significantly reduced after adjustment, providing evidence that neuro-intensive care services for newborns can improve hospital outcomes

*Corresponding Author: 

Mary Jo (MJ) Attar Harbert, MD, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, 3003 Health Center Drive, San Diego, 92123, CA, USA. Tel.: +1 858 939 4988; Fax: +1 858 939 4972; E-mail: