Pandemic planning: Developing a triage framework for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
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Although the Covid-19 pandemic has not had a direct impact on neonates so far, it has raised concerns about resource distribution and showed that planning is required before the next crisis or pandemic. Resource allocation must consider unique Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) attributes, including physical space and equipment that may not be transferable to older populations, unique skills of NICU staff, inherent uncertainty in prognosis both antenatally and postnatally, possible biases against neonates, and the future pandemic disease's possible impact on neonates. We identified the need for a validated Neonatal Severity of Illness Prognostic Score to guide triage decisions. Based on this score, triage decisions are the responsibility of an informed triage team not involved in direct patient care. Support for the distress experienced by parents and staff is needed. This paper presents essential considerations in developing a practical framework for resources and triage in the NICU before, during and after a pandemic.
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