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Quality-of-Care Indicators for the Neurodevelopmental Follow-up of Very Low Birth Weight Children: Results of an Expert Panel Process

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OBJECTIVE. To develop a set of quality indicators for the neurodevelopmental follow-up care of very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g) children.

METHODS. We reviewed the scientific literature on predictors of neurodevelopmental outcomes for VLBW children and the clinical practice guidelines relevant to their care after hospital discharge. An expert panel with members nominated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Vermont Oxford Network, and the California Children's Service was convened. We used a modified Delphi method to evaluate and select the quality-of-care indicators.

RESULTS. The panel recommended a total of 70 indicators in 5 postdischarge follow-up areas: general care; physical health; vision, hearing, speech, and language; developmental and behavioral assessment; and psychosocial issues. Of these, 58 (83%) indicators were in preventive care, 5 (7%) were in acute care, and 7 (10%) were in chronic care.

CONCLUSION. The quality indicators cover follow-up care for VLBW infants with various medical conditions. Given the elevated rates of long-term neurodevelopmental disabilities and the potential impact of poor health care, this new set of indicators provides an opportunity to assess and monitor the quality of follow-up care with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of care for this high-risk population.

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