Reduction in Length of Stay and Morphine Use for NAS With the "Eat, Sleep, Console" Method

Hosp Pediatr. 2019 Aug;9(8):615-623. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2018-0238. Epub 2019 Jul 8.


Objectives: To reduce average length of stay (ALOS) in infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) transferred to the inpatient floor from the mother-infant unit. Secondarily, we aimed to reduce morphine exposure in these infants.

Methods: Using quality improvement methodology, we redesigned our approach to NAS on the inpatient floor. Key interventions included transitioning from a modified Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System to the "Eat, Sleep, Console" method for withdrawal assessment, reeducation on nonpharmacologic interventions, and adding as-needed morphine as initial pharmacotherapy. Data for infants ≥35 weeks' gestation with confirmed in utero opioid exposure and worsening symptoms of NAS requiring transfer to the inpatient floor were obtained, including ALOS, number of morphine doses, and total morphine amount administered. Infants with conditions requiring nothing by mouth for >12 hours or morphine initiation in the ICU were excluded.

Results: ALOS for infants (baseline n = 40; intervention n = 36) with NAS transferred to the inpatient floor decreased from 10.3 to 4.9 days. Average morphine administered decreased from 38 to 0.3 doses per infant. No infant in the intervention period required scheduled morphine. The percent of all infants transferred to the floor for NAS requiring any morphine decreased from 92% at baseline to 19% postimplementation. There were no observed adverse events or NAS-related readmissions in the intervention period.

Conclusions: Transitioning to the Eat, Sleep, Console assessment with re-enforcement of nonpharmacologic care and use of as-needed morphine as initial pharmacotherapy resulted in a notably decreased ALOS and near elimination of postnatal opioid treatment of infants with NAS managed on our inpatient floor.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inpatients
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine