Use of hospital-based services in the first three months of life: impact of an early discharge program

J Pediatr. 1997 Feb;130(2):250-6. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(97)70351-2.


Objective: To assess the effect of an early discharge program on the use of hospital-based health care services in the first 3 months of life.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Metropolitan university hospital and a children's hospital.

Patients: Term infants cared for in a single term nursery, before and after implementation of an early discharge program.

Intervention: Early discharge program.

Methods: Linking of the birth hospital and the children's hospital records and chart review.

Outcome measures: Pattern of emergency department visits and rehospitalizations in the first 3 months of life.

Results: The early discharge group had a shorter stay, 32 +/- 21 hours (mean +/- SD) than the control group (48 +/- 22 hours). There was no effect of early discharge on mean age at rehospitalization, rehospitalization rate, or reason for rehospitalization. Twenty-eight percent of infants in both study and control groups had at least one emergency department visit by 3 months of age. There was no difference between study and control groups in mean age or frequency of emergency department visits. Maternal age and race had a significant effect on the odds of visiting the emergency department. For any maternal age, nonwhite mothers were more likely to visit the emergency department.

Conclusions: Early discharge of newborn infants to inner city parents can be accomplished without increasing hospital-based resource use in the first 3 months of life provided coordinated postdischarge care and home visiting services are available.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospital Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay* / statistics & numerical data
  • Maternal Age
  • Nurseries, Hospital
  • Ohio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Discharge* / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Poverty
  • Retrospective Studies