Objective: To compare length of stay (LOS) in neonatal care for babies born extremely preterm admitted to networks participating in the International Network for Evaluating Outcomes of Neonates (iNeo).
Study design: Data were extracted for babies admitted from 2014 to 2016 and born at 24 to 28 weeks of gestational age (n = 28 204). Median LOS was calculated for each network for babies who survived and those who died while in neonatal care. A linear regression model was used to investigate differences in LOS between networks after adjusting for gestational age, birth weight z score, sex, and multiplicity. A sensitivity analysis was conducted for babies who were discharged home directly.
Results: Observed median LOS for babies who survived was longest in Japan (107 days); this result persisted after adjustment (20.7 days more than reference, 95% CI 19.3-22.1). Finland had the shortest adjusted LOS (-4.8 days less than reference, 95% CI -7.3 to -2.3). For each week's increase in gestational age at birth, LOS decreased by 12.1 days (95% CI -12.3 to -11.9). Multiplicity and male sex predicted mean increases in LOS of 2.6 (95% CI 2.0-3.2) and 2.1 (95% CI 1.6-2.6) days, respectively.
Conclusions: We identified between-network differences in LOS of up to 3 weeks for babies born extremely preterm. Some of these may be partly explained by differences in mortality, but unexplained variations also may be related to differences in clinical care practices and healthcare systems between countries.
Keywords: care provision; hospital admission; hospital discharge; perinatal; prematurity.
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