Assessing Neonates for Neonatal Abstinence: Are You Reliable?

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Abstract

Nationally, there has been a steady increase in the number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome or drug withdrawal. Many of these infants remain in the hospital because their signs of withdrawal require pharmacologic management. The length of hospital stay can range from 1 week to several months depending on the severity of withdrawal. One way to decrease the length of stay and reduce the cost of care is to discharge the infant from the hospital sooner. To discharge infants sooner, their neonatal abstinence syndrome must be accurately assessed so that appropriate pharmacologic management can be administered. One way to increase the accuracy of assessing withdrawal signs is to implement an interobserver reliability protocol. This approach will allow healthcare professionals to gain consistency and accuracy in assessing infants for signs of withdrawal that may facilitate earlier discharge from the hospital.

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