Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

 

Daily printouts keep new parents up to date

Your Baby's was printed out every morning to keep Aiden Kuwayti’s parents informed about his care and condition in the neonatal intensive care unit.

   

Parents of sick newborns need clear, immediate access to information about their baby’s condition. While conversations with the physician or nurse are essential, Packard Children’s has found another way to keep families in the loop.

Each morning, parents of newborns in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) receive a printout, called Your Baby’s Daily Update, which is placed at the baby’s bedside. It provides a personalized snapshot of key items from the electronic medical record, including lab results, nutritional status and any changes in the baby’s condition over the past 24 hours.

The daily reports became possible after the NICU switched from paper-based files to electronic medical records, making it easier for caregivers to maintain and share medical information with each other. The next step was to extend this information to the other vital members of the care team: parents. A group of physicians, nurses, parents and informatics specialists then designed a template that could be personalized and printed out for each infant.

“The team had a good sense of what needed to be included on the printouts based on what parents wanted to know about their child each day,” said Jonathan P. Palma, MD, MS, a neonatologist and member of Packard Children’s medical informatics services. “The update empowers parents with the knowledge to contribute to medical decisions regarding their infant and creates a meaningful connection.”

When Shannon Maher’s son, Aiden Kuwayti, was born 10 weeks early, the updates helped Maher communicate with her husband about the baby’s condition. Because the family had an older child at home, they took shifts at Aiden’s bedside, catching each other up on his condition by phone. But the stress of their son’s fragile state made it difficult for Maher to recall specific details of his care. Instead, she gave her husband information from the printed updates each time they talked. “It really helped to have some numbers to give him,” she said.

Since it was introduced in 2010, the update has been translated into Spanish and the distribution process has been expanded and streamlined. Based on the NICU’s experience, other Packard Children’s departments are beginning to offer similar updates for families of their patients, too.

“The update includes all the basics that a parent wants to know and is a starting point for more in-depth conversations,” said Heather Keller, a member of the team that developed the project. “It’s also a wonderful tool for parents new to the NICU who face a tremendous learning curve about their child’s care and condition.”

In a study designed to evaluate Your Baby’s Daily Update, recently published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine, parents reported that they found the printout very useful, and more than 95 percent said that they “always” liked receiving it and felt more competent to manage information related to the health status of their babies.

Parents rated the quality of the update as highly as information from their conversations with doctors and nurses, and more highly than many other information sources, such as NICU bulletin boards or the Internet. Many considered the report to be “refrigerator worthy,” taking it home for display, as well as posting it on family blogs and Facebook.

The document also has proven to be useful for nurses and physicians in the NICU, Palma said. “There is a large number of patients, and we don’t always have a chance to talk to each parent every day. It’s become an important part of how we
deliver care.”

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