Background: To examine the potential benefits of routine nurse home visiting after early discharge, we compared health service use among low-risk newborns with and without a nurse home visit and telephone follow-up after short hospital stays.
Methods: Records of newborns discharged routinely before (n = 83) and after (n = 91) implementation of a universal postpartum home visiting program were reviewed retrospectively. Acute care visits, rehospitalizations, and well-baby visits for newborns up to 74 days of age were compared between the groups.
Results: Acute care visits, rehospitalizations, and missed well-baby visits consistently appeared less likely among newborns receiving home visiting services, in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Adjusting for insurance, parity, and breast-feeding, a twofold reduction in acute care visits by 14 days was significant. Although not statistically significant, adjusted analyses of acute care and missed well-baby visits revealed apparently similar patterns at all time intervals. There were too few rehospitalizations for multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: Despite the limitations of this small retrospective study, the consistency of the findings suggests potentially important benefits of home visiting services after early discharge of low-risk newborns, with substantial implications for clinical and reimbursement policy. Effects could be greater with more vulnerable populations and shorter stays than those in this study.