Neonatal Skin Care: Clinical Outcomes of the AWHONN/NANN Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline

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ObjectiveTo test the effectiveness of an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for neonatal skin care on selected clinical outcomes for new-borns in neonatal intensive-care units (NICU), special-care units (SCU), and well-baby nurseries.DesignProspective evaluation of the collaborative neonatal skin care research-based practice project of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.SettingNICU and well-baby units in 51 hospitals located throughout the United States.ParticipantsMember site coordinators (N = 51) and the neonates (N = 2,820) observed during both the pre- and postimplementation phases of the project.MethodSite coordinators received specialized education in neonatal skin care and implemented an evidence-based clinical practice guideline addressing 10 aspects of neonatal skin care. Baseline observations of skin condition, care practices, and environment of newly admitted neonates were collected by site coordinators. Postimplementation observations were then completed.Main Outcome MeasuresSkin condition was assessed with the Neonatal Skin Condition Score (NSCS), which ranges from a score of three (best condition) to a score of nine (worst condition), based on dryness, erythema, and skin breakdown. Changes in frequency of selected skin care practices were used to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of using the practice guideline in everyday clinical practice. Aspects of the care environment with potential effect on skin integrity were monitored to determine risk factors.ResultsFifty-one site coordinators made 11,468 systematic assessments of 2,464 NICU and SCU newborns and 356 well newborns. Baseline skin scores were better in well newborns compared with premature newborns. After implementation of the guideline, skin condition was improved, as reflected by less visible dryness, redness, and skin breakdown in both the NICU/SCU and well newborns. The guideline was integrated into care, as evidenced by increased use of emollients, particularly with premature infants, and decreased frequency of bathing. A relationship was shown between selected aspects of the environment and alterations in skin integrity.ConclusionsUse of the AWHONN/NANN Neonatal Skin Care Research-Based Clinical Practice Guideline was successfully implemented at 51 sites, and effectiveness was demonstrated by changed care practices and improved skin condition in premature and full-term newborns. The results of this project support a wider dissemination of the project's practice guideline for neonatal skin care.

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