Admission hypothermia (AH, < 36.5℃) remains a major challenge for global neonatal survival, especially in developing countries. Baseline research shows nearly 89.3% of very low birth weight (VLBW, < 1500 g) infants suffer from AH in China. Therefore, a prospective multicentric quality improvement (QI) initiative to reduce regional AH and improve outcomes among VLBW neonates was implemented.
The study used a sequential Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) approach. Clinical data were collected prospectively from 5 NICUs within the Sino-Northern Neonatal Network (SNN) in China. The hypothermia prevention bundle came into practice on January 1, 2019. The clinical characteristics and outcomes data in the pre-QI phase (January 1, 2018- December 31, 2018) were compared with that from the post-QI phase (January 1, 2019-December 31, 2020). Clinical characteristics and outcomes data were analyzed.
A total of 750 in-born VLBW infants were enrolled in the study, 270 in the pre-QI period and 480 in the post- QI period, respectively. There were no significant differences in clinical characteristics of infants between these two phases. Compared with pre-QI period, the incidence of AH was decreased significantly after the QI initiative implementation in the post-QI period (95.9% vs. 71.3%, P < 0.01). Incidence of admission moderate-to-severe hypothermia (AMSH, < 36℃) also decreased significantly, manifesting a reduction to 38.5% in the post-QI (68.5% vs 30%, P < 0.01). Average admission temperature improved from after QI (35.5 [Formula: see text] 0.7℃ vs. 36.0 [Formula: see text] 0.6℃, P  37.5 °C or thermal burns between the two groups. The risk ratio of mortality in infants during the post-QI period was significantly lower in the post-QI period as compared to the pre-QI period [adjusted risk ratio (aRR): 0.26, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.13-0.50]. The risk ratio of late-onset neonatal sepsis (LOS) also significantly lowered in the post-QI period (aRR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.50-0.87).
Implementation of multicentric thermoregulatory QI resulted in a significant reduction in AH and AMSH in VLBW neonates with associated reduction in mortality. We gained a lot from the QI, and successfully aroused the attention of perinatal medical staff to neonatal AH. This provided a premise for continuous quality improvement of AH in the future, and might provide a reference for implementation of similar interventions in developing countries.
Trial registration number: ChiCTR1900020861 . Date of registration: 21 January 2019(21/01/2019). Prospectively registered.

© 2022. The Author(s).