Elective transfers of preterm neonates to regional centres on non-invasive respiratory support is cost effective and increases tertiary care bed capacity

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Managing capacity at regional facilities caring for sick neonates is increasingly challenging. This study estimated the clinical and economic impact of the elective transfer of stable infants requiring nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) from level three to level two neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) within an established clinical network of five NICUs.


We retrospectively analysed the records of 99 stable infants transferred on NCPAP between two level three NICUs and three level two NICUs in Calgary, Canada, between June 2014 and May 2016.


The median gestational age and weight at birth were 28 weeks and 955 g, and the median corrected gestational age and weight at transfer were 33 weeks and 1597 g, respectively. This resulted in cost savings of $2.65 million Canadian dollars during the two-year study period, and 848 level three NICU days were freed up for potentially sick neonates. There were no adverse events associated with the transfers.


The elective transfer of stable neonates on NCPAP from level three to level two NICUs within an established clinical network led to substantial cost savings, was safe and increased the bed capacity at the two level three NICUs.

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