NICU Nurses Develop Way to Warm Premature Babies
Nurses at Texas Health Fort Worth have developed a program to keep fragile premature babies warmer. They discovered, after forming an interdisciplinary work group to study the issue, placing a newborn baby born at 32 weeks or less or at less than 3.3 lbs into Ziploc freezer bags can decrease the possibility of a baby being admitted to the NICU with a low temperature.
Premature infants with admission temperatures below 96.8 degrees are at higher risk of mortality and some morbidities including late-onset sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage and oxygen toxicity. After reviewing outcomes data and literature, Lindsey Cannon, M.S.N., R.N., RNC-NIC, NEA-BC, NICU manager, and Stephanie Eidson, B.S.N., RNC-NIC, clinical educator, identified four key evidence-based interventions associated with improved admission temperatures in high-risk NICU patients.
“It was critical to find ways to improve the admission temperatures of our most medically fragile patients,” Cannon said. “This is one thing we can do right off the bat to help give them a better chance.”
Eidson told NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth that the bags create a hot house effect so that their temperatures are normal when they enter the NICU.
The practice, which involves cutting a hole in the top of the bag and sliding the baby in head first, has led to a decrease of low birth weight babies being admitted as hypothermic. In fact, over the past two years, the percentage of hypothermic infants admitted to the NICU decreased from 20 to 10 percent and infants with normal temperatures on admission increased from 50 to 70 percent.
Eidson and Cannon began the process of looking at newborn temperature at admission to the NICU with a team made up of labor and delivery and NICU nurses, physicians and other staff. They called the project the Hypothermia Eradication from Admission Temperatures study, or, the H.E.A.T. study. They evaluated several options, including thermal mattresses, plastic shower caps and radiant warmers before settling on the Ziploc bags. They also raised the room temperature two degrees.
Patient Christine Evans, who gave birth to twin girls at 30 weeks gestation in November, told NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth that she thinks being at Texas Health Fort Worth was “the right place at the right time.”
“We are lucky that I came out okay and they came out of it OK,” she told the news station.
Both girls were placed into the Ziploc freezer bags within seconds of being born. They are doing well.
As a result of these successful outcomes, the American Excess Insurance Exchange (AEIX) awarded the hospital $12,000, which was used to purchase a VLBW (Very Low Birth Weight) infant simulator to further educate staff.
For more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Texas Health Fort Worth, visit our website.