Parenteral nutrition (PN) promotes growth and development in neonatal patients while avoiding malnutrition and metabolic derangements. Very low birth weight premature infants should be started on PN within 24 to 48 hours after birth. The objective of this study was to compare starter PN solution use at a freestanding children's hospital health care system before and after the development of a standard starter PN protocol. The secondary objective was to evaluate the estimated annual cost savings due to a standard protocol.
A single-center, retrospective chart review of neonates who received starter PN in the NICU setting from October through December 2020 after the implementation of the protocol was conducted. The protocol was developed based on usage trends from October through December 2019. Starter PN use was compared within neonatology groups before and after the development of a standardized protocol.
In 2019, 108 neonates weighing <1.8 kg were admitted to the NICUs, while 101 were admitted in 2020. However, 170 neonates received starter PN in 2019, while only 94 neonates received starter PN in 2020. Overall, protocol adherence was 88%. The mean gestational age for patients who were initiated on starter PN decreased from 31 weeks in the pre-protocol group to 28 weeks in the post-protocol group (p < 0.001). The mean birth weight pre-protocol was 1.61 kg, which decreased to a mean of 1.23 kg in the post-protocol group (p < 0.001). The estimated annual cost savings for the inpatient pharmacy department was approximately $13,000 with the initiation of a standard protocol.
The implementation of a standard starter PN protocol decreased usage and variability in NICU practice and aligned more with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition recommendations.