Clinician adherence to guideline for phototherapy use in newborns

Diane J. Madlon-Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objectives of this study were (1) to determine clinician adherence to the 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics guideline for phototherapy use in newborns; (2) to compare adherence to the guideline in 2 different hospitals; and (3) to determine whether adherence to the guideline improved after the phototherapy nomogram was available in newborn charts. Methods: This study was a retrospective review of medical records of 1160 newborns receiving care at the normal newborn nurseries at 2 Twin City, MN, hospitals. Four hundred thirty-six infants received phototherapy. Results: When phototherapy was administered, it was indicated in 37% of cases and not indicated in 8%. In 56% of cases it was considered subthreshold. When phototherapy was not administered, it was appropriate in 99% of cases but was inappropriate or missed in 1% of cases. There was a significant difference in clinician adherence to the phototherapy guidelines between the hospitals. The addition of the phototherapy nomogram to the newborn charts did not change adherence to the guideline. Conclusions: Clinicians infrequently missed providing phototherapy when it was indicated. Most infants received phototherapy when their bilirubin level was in the "optional" range. The interhospital variability of guideline adherence confirms results found in other studies. Because the addition of the phototherapy nomogram alone did not improve adherence to the guideline, alternative interventions targeted at nurseries should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Clinical practice guideline
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Newborns
  • Phototherapy
  • Retrospective study


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