Mortality and Morbidity rounds in neonatology: Providers' experiences and perspectives

Acta Paediatr. 2021 Oct;110(10):2737-2744. doi: 10.1111/apa.15986. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


Aim: To describe how Canadian level III neonatal intensive care units (NICU) organise mortality and morbidity rounds (M&MR) and explore clinicians' perspectives.

Methods: This questionnaire study, including open-ended questions, examined the following domains: (1) M&MR format, (2) ethical issues and (3) limitations and perceived effectiveness.

Results: Sixteen out of twenty (80%) level III NICUs participated. All deaths and 64% of morbidities were discussed. M&MR occurred monthly (69%) with 3-5 patients discussed hourly (63%) and usually (75%) physician led. Wide variations of practice between centres existed for practical issues, such as administrative support and attendance. 44% of centres allowed nurses to participate. Goals reported by participants were also heterogeneous: reducing medical error (56%), educational (50%), improving communication (44%) and peer review (23%). Practical barriers were time (75%) and lack of resources/structure (25%). Four main themes were as follows: the role of M&MR, the ongoing blame culture, communication issues and the distinction between mortality and morbidity.

Conclusion: Goals and format of M&MR vary widely. M&MR remains physician-centric, where the blame culture still endures. Neonatal M&MR models should be adapted to the modern NICU to ensure the M&MR stays relevant. It could also benefit from lessons learned in quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Morbidity
  • Neonatology*
  • Teaching Rounds*