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A proposal to prevent severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus


To address systems failures and promote a safer management of newborn jaundice, we propose an ‘aviation safety standard’ for newborn health-care services during the first week after birth. Systems failure in newborn jaundice management has been characterized by lapses in concern, loss of continuity, and delays in care by multiple providers at multiple sites. Components for a six-step national strategy to prevent severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and possibly kernicterus are being implemented as delineated in the 2004 AAP guidelines. The clinical guidelines for safer and evidence-based practice have been characterized by both healthcare and societal communities. Professional and community organizations are optimizing outreach resources and facilitating institutionalization of these practices. Nationwide implementation at individual birthing hospitals concurrent with surveillance feedback needs to be initiated. Implementation of a ‘six-sigma’ approach, as proposed to the current Center for Disease Control and Prevention-initiated partnership (health-care providers, public health and community advocates) may be achieved through collaboration with state and national agencies.

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Correspondence to V K Bhutani.

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Bhutani, V., Johnson, L. A proposal to prevent severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus. J Perinatol 29 (Suppl 1), S61–S67 (2009).

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