Objective: To examine differences among various test protocols on the fail rate at hospital discharge for infants in the well-baby nursery (WBN) and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who received hearing screening through a universal newborn hearing screening demonstration project.
Design: The outcomes of several screening protocols were examined. Two technologies were used: transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) alone or in combination with the auditory brain stem response (ABR). The performance of test protocols in both nurseries within eight hospitals was examined over a 2- to 3-yr period. In the WBN, six hospitals used a screening protocol of TEOAE technology first followed by an ABR (automated or conventional) technology screening for newborns who referred on TEOAE screening. Two hospitals used TEOAE only in the WBN. Seven hospitals used screening protocols in the NICU that used a combination of TEOAE and ABR technologies (TEOAE technology administered first or second, before or after TEOAE, or TEOAE and ABR tests on all infants). Only one hospital used TEOAE technology exclusively for hearing screening.
Results: Significant differences among screening protocols were found across hospitals in the first, second, and third years of the program. The combination of TEOAE technology and ABR technology (a two-technology screening protocol) resulted in a significantly lower fail rate at hospital discharge than the use of a single-technology (TEOAE). Fail rates at discharge were twice as high using the one-technology protocol versus two-technology protocol, even when the best outcomes from program year 3 were considered exclusively. Results of two-technology versus one-technology protocols were similar in the NICU. Use of a second technology for screening TEOAE fails significantly reduced every hospital that used the protocol's fail rate at discharge.
Conclusions: A two-technology screening protocol resulted in significantly lower fail rates at hospital discharge in both the WBN and NICU nurseries than use of a single-technology (TEOAE) hearing screening protocol.