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Trends in very early discharge from hospital for newborns under midwifery care in Ontario from 2003 to 2017: a retrospective cohort study


Background — Very early discharge from hospital is an element of Ontario midwifery care. Our aim in the present study was to describe the frequency of very early hospital discharge for newborns in Ontario midwifery care over time.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study, including all midwife-attended singleton term cephalic newborns delivered by spontaneous vaginal birth at Ontario hospitals between April 2003 and February 2017. Our primary outcome was very early hospital discharge (< 6 h after birth) for newborns. Secondary outcomes were pediatric consultation before hospital discharge, phototherapy before hospital discharge and readmission for treatment of jaundice. We used generalized linear mixed models to estimate the relation between maternal, neonatal and hospital factors and very early discharge, while accounting for clustering by hospital.

Results — The study cohort included 101 852 newborns born at 89 hospitals. Between 2003/04 and 2016/17, the unadjusted rate of very early discharge decreased from 34.3% to 30.7%. This trend was not significant after adjustment for covariates (odds ratio 1.0, 95% confidence interval 0.99–1.0). Unadjusted rates of pediatric consultation, phototherapy and readmission for jaundice all rose slightly over the study period. Hospital-specific risk-adjusted frequencies of very early discharge ranged from 5% (n = 1479) to 83% (n = 3459) across the 75 Ontario hospitals with at least 100 newborns included in the study cohort.

Interpretation — Hospital-level factors contributed to the observed decrease in crude rates of very early discharge for midwifery clients. Wide variation in these rates across Ontario hospitals points to room for improvement to make more efficient use of healthcare resources by promoting optimal levels of very early discharge.



Darling EK, Babe G, Sorbara C, Perez R. CMAJ Open. 2020; 8(2):E462-8. Epub 2020 Jun 25.

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