Clinical burden associated with therapies for cardio-pulmonary critical decompensation in preterm neonates across Canadian neonatal intensive care units
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The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to study the clinical burden associated with cardio-pulmonary critical decompensations (CPCDs) in preterm neonates and factors associated with mortality. Through the Canadian Neonatal Network (30 tertiary NICUs, 2010-2017), we identified infants < 32-week gestational age with CPCDs, defined by "significant exposure" to cardiotropes and/or inhaled nitric oxide (iNO): (1) either therapy for ≥ 3 consecutive days, (2) both for ≥ 2 consecutive days, or (3) any exposure within 2 days of death. Early CPCDs (≤ 3 days of age) and late CPCDs (> 3 days) were examined separately. Outcomes included CPCD-incidence, mortality, and inter-site variability using standardized ratios (observed/adjusted expected rate) and network funnel plots. Mixed-effects analysis was used to quantify unit-level variability in mortality. Overall, 10% of admissions experienced CPCDs (n = 2915). Late CPCDs decreased by ~ 5%/year, while early CPCDs were unchanged during the study period. Incidence and CPCD-associated mortality varied between sites, for both early (0.6-7.5% and 0-100%, respectively) and late CPCDs (2.5-15% and 14-83%, respectively), all p < 0.01. Units' late-CPCD incidence and mortality demonstrated an inverse relationship (slope = -2.5, p < 0.01). Mixed-effects analysis demonstrated clustering effect, with 6.4% and 8.6% of variability in mortality after early and late CPCDs respectively being site-related, unexplained by available patient-level characteristics or unit volume. Mortality was higher with combined exposure than with only-cardiotropes or only-iNO (41.3%, 24.8%, 21.5%, respectively; p < 0.01).
ConclusionsClustering effects exist in CPCD-associated mortality among Canadian NICUs, with higher incidence units showing lower mortality. These data may aid network-level benchmarking, patient-level risk stratification, parental counseling, and further research and quality improvement work.
What is known• Preterm neonates remain at high risk of acute and chronic complications; the most critically unwell require therapies such as cardiotropic drugs and inhaled nitric oxide. • Infants requiring these therapies are known to be at high risk for adverse neonatal outcomes and for mortality.
What is new• This study helps illuminate the national burden of acute cardio-pulmonary critical decompensation (CPCD), defined as the need for cardiotropic drugs or inhaled nitric oxide, and highlights the high risk of morbidity and mortality associated with this disease state. • Significant nationwide variability exists in both CPCD incidence and associated mortality; a clustering effect was observed with higher incidence sites showing lower CPCD-associated mortality.
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