Objective: To analyze patient compliance regarding the first newborn visit after hospital discharge.
Study design: We selected at random 640 charts over a 1-year period from two community hospitals of healthy term newborns who were cared for by four practices in Kalamazoo, MI. We collected demographic data from the hospital chart and recorded the discharge order for time of posthospital follow-up. We then accessed the individual clinics' appointment logs to determine when the patient came for the first visit. Lateness was defined as appearance for appointment >24 hours after the time stated on the hospital discharge order. We studied patient lateness with respect to the clinic, maternal age, insurance status, and distance from the patient's home to the medical facility, using both univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: We demonstrated a significant difference in lateness of the first appointment between Medicaid and non-Medicaid patients in both the univariate (p<0.001) and multivariate (p=0.0003) analyses. We also demonstrated significant differences in the univariate analysis in patient lateness among the different practices (p<0.001) as well as lateness with regard to maternal age (p=0.0009). We did not attain significance in either analysis for patient lateness with regard to distance of home from the medical facility, or the hospital in which the baby was born.
Conclusion: We demonstrated a need to improve upon newborn follow-up from the hospital and suggest strategies for other communities to analyze the process and improve upon patient and practice compliance with that first appointment.