Specialist: Study could 'fundamentally change the way we manage fever in infants'
Intermountain Healthcare improved outcomes and saved $1.9 million at four hospitals in 2009 by implementing evidence-based processes for treating infant fevers.
With the assistance of pediatric specialists and experts, the Salt Lake City-based health system in 2008 created and implemented an evidence-based care model to address infant fevers. The model requires that all admitted infants undergo viral diagnostic testing and details the steps to be taken based on the results of each test.
Writing in a recent study in Pediatrics, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah researchers assessed the impact of the model. They evaluated 8,431 febrile cases in 8,044 infants at Intermountain facilities between 2004 and 2009.
On average, the researchers found that the standardized care model:
- Reduced length of stay from 60 to 44 hours, or 27%;
- Cut costs per infant admission from $7178 in 2007 to $5979 in 2009;
- Treated bacterial infections more quickly and efficiently; and
- Administered fewer inappropriate medications for viral infections.
According to lead study author Carrie Byington, the model reduced variations in febrile infant care across the Utah health system, bringing high-quality care to infants regardless of "whether they are evaluated at a regional medical center by non-pediatric providers or at the regional children's hospital staffed with pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists."
Ed Clark—pediatrics chair at the University of Utah's School of Medicine—called the study "groundbreaking" and said it could "fundamentally change the way we manage fever in infants" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/25, Byington et al, Pediatrics, 6/25 [subscription required]).