Association of Neonatologist Continuity of Care and Short Term Patient Outcomes
Objectives: To describe neonatologist continuity of care and estimate the association between these transitions and selected patient outcomes. Study design: We linked Children's Hospitals Neonatal Database records with masked neonatologist daily schedules at 4 centers, which use 2- and 3-week and 1-month "on service" blocks to provide care. After describing the neonatologist transitions, we estimated associations between these transitions and selected short-term patient outcomes using multivariable Poisson, logistic, and linear regression analyses, independent of length of stay (LOS) and case-mix. We also completed analyses after stratifying the cohort by LOS, birthweight, age at admission categories, and selected diagnoses. Results: Stratified by LOS, patient transitions varied between centers in both unadjusted (P < .001) and multivariable analyses (adjusted incidence rate ratio; 95% CI for center B = 3.98 (3.81-4.15), center C = 4.92 (4.71-5.13), center D = 4.2 (4.0-4.4), P < .001), independent of LOS, gestational age, birthweight, surgical intervention, ventilator duration, and mortality. Only central venous line duration (adjusted incidence rate ratio 1.015, 95% CI 1.01-1.02) was minimally and independently associated with the number of transitions. No differences were observed in ventilator duration, oxygen use at neonatal intensive care unit discharge, bloodstream infections, or urinary tract infections. Surviving infants with meconium aspiration, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral infarction, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and diaphragmatic hernia demonstrated similar findings. Conclusions: Transitions in neonatologists are frequent in regional neonatal intensive care units but appear unrelated to short-term patient outcomes. Future work to define continuity of care and develop effective strategies that promote longitudinal inpatient management is needed.