Introduction: Teleconsultation is used in tertiary care hospitals to evaluate neonatal encephalopathy. Neonates born in community hospitals, however, often experience delayed evaluation due to transport to the tertiary care center. We studied teleconsultations in community hospitals to decrease this disparity.
Methods: Prospective observational study in 9 community hospitals and 1 neonatal intensive care unit. Inclusion criteria: gestational age greater than or equal to 35 weeks and one of the following: umbilical cord pH less than or equal to 7.2, 5-minute Apgar less than 7, prolonged respiratory support, perinatal event, or abnormal neurological exam. We performed synchronized, unscheduled telemedicine consults with the main outcome of time to teleconsultation.
Results: From April 2018 to September 2020, we performed 53 teleconsultations: 34 (64%) in community hospitals and 19 (36%) in the tertiary care center. Teleconsultations occurred at a median of 98 minutes (IQR, 76-127) in community hospitals versus 68 minutes (IQR, 43-91) in the tertiary care center (P = .004). Nine (26%) neonates born in a community hospital remained with their parents and were not transferred to the tertiary care center for further assessment.
Discussion: Neonates born in rural community hospitals have slightly later teleconsultations than neonates born in the tertiary care center. Telemedicine use reduced this disparity from nearly 5 hours in our prior study to 98 minutes in this study by permitting evaluation of neonates in community hospitals without transporting them to the tertiary care center.
Conclusions: Teleconsultations to evaluate neonatal encephalopathy are a feasible, accessible, and reliable way to bring expert-level care into rural community hospitals.
Coffey, Rachel; Melendi, Misty; Cutler, Anya K.; and Craig, Alexa K.
"Telemedicine Consultation to Assess Neonatal Encephalopathy in Rural Community Hospitals and Tertiary Care Centers,"
Journal of Maine Medical Center: Vol. 4
, Article 7.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.46804/2641-2225.1115