Background: Early readmissions of apparently healthy newborns after discharge from well baby nurseries (WBN) may reflect an inadequate assessment of the newborn's readiness for discharge.
Objective: To determine the frequency, causes, costs, and variations in rates of early rehospitalization of newborns discharged from 21 WBNs in 1 health care system.
Methods: We queried the Enterprise Data Warehouse of Intermountain Healthcare (IH), a large Utah health care system, to identify newborns with gestational ages of 34 to 42 weeks discharged from an IH WBN between 2000 and 2010. We identified all newborns admitted to an IH hospital within 28 days of discharge and recorded their birth hospital, age, reason(s) for admission, length of stay, and inpatient costs.
Results: During the study period, 296 114 infants were discharged from IH hospital WBNs. Of these, 5308 (17.9/1000) were readmitted within 28 days of discharge. Of the 5308 infants who were readmitted, 41% had feeding problems, 35% had jaundice, and 33% had respiratory distress. The majority of newborns with feeding problems and jaundice were admitted in their first 2 weeks of life. Late preterm and early term newborns had higher rates of readmission than term infants. There were significant variations in readmission rates of newborns born at the 21 hospitals in the IH system.
Conclusions: Potentially preventable conditions, including feeding problems and jaundice, account for most early readmissions of newborns. Late preterm and early term newborns have higher rates of readmission and should be assessed for other factors associated with early readmission.
Keywords: early readmission; late preterm newborns; well baby nursery.