Objective: To determine the safety, efficacy, and cost savings of early hospital discharge of women delivered by unplanned cesarean delivery.
Methods: Using randomized assignment, 61 postpartum women were discharged from the hospital at the usual time, and 61 were discharged early and had nurse specialist home follow-up care. The latter group received comprehensive discharge planning, instruction, counseling, home visits, and daily on-call availability from the nurse specialists. Both groups were followed from delivery to 8 weeks postpartum.
Results: Women who were discharged early and received transitional home care services by clinical nurse specialists were sent home a mean of 30.3 hours earlier than the control group (P < .001). They had significantly greater satisfaction with care, more of their infants had timely immunizations at the end of follow-up, and they had a 29% reduction in health care charges compared to the control group receiving routine care. Although there were no statistically significant differences in maternal and infant rehospitalizations and acute-care visits, there were more maternal rehospitalizations in the control group than in the nurse specialist-followed group (three versus zero). No statistically significant differences were found between the groups in the outcomes of maternal affect and overall functional status.
Conclusion: Early hospital discharge of women after unplanned cesarean birth, using the model of nurse specialist transitional home care, is safe, feasible, and cost-effective.