The objectives of this study were: 1) to perform documented event-monitoring (DEM) for apnea (A, > or = 20 s) and bradycardia (B, < 80 beats per min for > or = 5 s) in premature infants prior to discharge, and 2) to examine the accuracy of nursing documentation (ND) of A and B. Forty-four stable preterm infants, with mean weights and gestational ages at birth (+/- SD) of 1,543 (+/- 365) g, and 30 (+/- 2) weeks, respectively, were studied using DEM for 9 (+/- 2) days prior to discharge. Differences in DEM and ND were analyzed by the z-test for proportions. There were 561 true events recorded by DEM: 56 were As and 505 were Bs. ND revealed 296 events, 190 As and 106 Bs. Of the 56 true As on DEM, only 21 (38%) were correctly reported by ND (P < 0.001, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.44-0.81). Of the 505 true Bs on DEM, 153 (30%) were correctly reported by ND (P < 0.001, CI 0.63-0.76). When ND was compared with DEM, 174 (59%) of NDs were true events. Of the 106 As on ND, only 21 (20%) were true As on DEM (P < 0.001, CI 0.58-1). Of the 190 Bs on ND, 153 (80%) were true Bs on DEM (P < 0.001, CI 0.13-0.26). ND did not detect 6 of the 33 infants who had significant events on DEM, while 4 of the 11 who had events reported on ND did not have any on DEM. Thus, 10 infants were misclassified by ND (P < 0.01, CI 0.1-0.36). These results indicate that, compared to DEM, ND not only identified significantly fewer true As and Bs, but also misclassified a significant number of infants. We conclude that DEM performed prior to discharge for preterm infants at risk for apnea and bradycardia provides more objective and accurate information than ND.