OBJECTIVES: The incidence of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) has increased fivefold over the last 10 years. Standardized NOWS care protocols have revealed many improved patient outcomes. Our objective for this study is to describe results of a clinical practice survey of NOWS management practices designed to inform future clinical studies in the diagnosis and management of NOWS.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was administered to medical unit directors at 32 Institutional Development Award States Pediatric Clinical Trial Network and 22 Neonatal Research Network sites in the fall of 2017. Results are presented as both the number and percentage of positive responses. Ninety-five percent Wilson confidence intervals (CIs) were generated around estimates, and χ2 and Fisher's exact tests were used to compare the association between unit type and reporting of each protocol.
RESULTS: Sixty-two responses representing 54 medical centers were received. Most participating NICU and non-ICU sites reported protocols for NOWS management, including NOWS scoring (98% NICU; 86% non-ICU), pharmacologic treatment (92% NICU; 64% non-ICU), and nonpharmacologic care (79% NICU; 79% non-ICU). Standardized protocols for pharmacologic care and weaning were reported more frequently in the NICU (92% [95% CI: 80%-97%] and 94% [95% CI: 83%-98%], respectively) compared with non-ICU settings (64% [95% CI: 39%-84%] for both) (P < .05 for both comparisons). Most medical centers reported morphine as first-line therapy (82%; 95% CI: 69%-90%) and level 3 and level 4 NICUs as the location of pharmacologic treatment (83%; 95% CI: 71%-91%).
CONCLUSIONS: Observed variations in care between NICUs and non-ICUs revealed opportunities for targeted interventions in training and standardized care plans in non-ICU sites.