A quality improvement project to reduce length of stay for neonatal abstinence syndrome

Lindsey Asti, Jacqueline S. Magers, Erin Keels, Jonathan Wispe, Richard E. McClead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a self-limiting condition, is associated with clinical symptoms that may require pharmacological intervention. Optimal treatment of NAS remains undetermined, but the hospital length of stay (LOS) for patients with NAS is partially dependent upon a standard treatment protocol used. Prolonged LOS for patients with NAS can lead to adverse patient harm, impaired maternal-infant attachment, and significant health care costs. Therefore, we conducted a quality improvement study to reduce the LOS for infants with NAS. METHODS: In 2009, a multidisciplinary NAS Taskforce was created to implement a standardized treatment protocol, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current medical and nursing management, and improve communication among staff. Infants with NAS that required pharmacological intervention were followed throughout their hospitalization. Readmission within 30 days of hospital discharge was tracked as a balancing measure. RESULTS: Ninety-two infants were eligible for the project including 23 infants from a baseline period (January 2007-August 2009). Reliable monitoring of symptoms and the administration of a standardized morphine protocol effectively reduced LOS from 36 days to 18 days by June 2012. This improvement was sustained through December 2012. No patients were readmitted for NAS treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The most effective interventions that impacted LOS for infants with NAS were the development of a staff NAS education program and the implementation of a standard treatment protocol. The formation of the NAS Taskforce was also essential because it facilitated communication and the dissemination of vital treatment information among all clinical staff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1494-e1500
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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