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Premature Infants Discharged Faster in California than U.K.

Massachusetts hospital stays similar to those in U.K.

FRIDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Moderately premature infants cared for in neonatal intensive care units are discharged faster from California hospitals than those in Massachusetts or the United Kingdom, according to a report in the July issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Jochen Profit, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and colleagues compared the age of 4,359 infants, who were born between 30 and 34 weeks gestation and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, with their age at the time of discharge from five hospitals in California in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care program, five in Massachusetts and 54 in the United Kingdom.

The researchers found that the infants had longer stays in United Kingdom hospitals. The infants were discharged from California hospitals 3.9 days sooner than in the United Kingdom, and 0.9 days earlier from hospitals in Massachusetts. The mean postmenstrual age at discharge was 35.9 weeks in California, compared with 36.3 in the United Kingdom and Massachusetts.

"The California system may provide opportunities for identifying practices for reducing the length of stay of moderately premature infants...Further research should attempt to verify and then identify specifically which factors of health care systems are responsible for such differences and to identify the barriers to facilitators to altering them in order to improve the efficiency of health care provision," the authors concluded.

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