Background: Phototherapy (PT) is widely used to prevent and treat severe hyperbilirubinemia and its associated risks for both acute and chronic bilirubin encephalopathy. Intensive PT, recommended for inpatient treatment of hyperbilirubinemia in term and near-term infants, is defined as having a spectral irradiance of ≥30 μW/cm2/nm. Objectives: We aimed to assess local PT practices by measuring the irradiance of PT devices in local neonatal intensive care units and newborn nurseries. Methods: The irradiance footprint, including maximum irradiance at the center of the footprint, of 39 PT devices in 7 area hospitals was measured according to current practice in these facilities. Results: The mean ± SD (range) footprint irradiance was 20.7 ± 5.8 (8.8-29.4) μW/cm2/nm. The mean ± SD maximum irradiance at the footprint center for all devices at a mean clinically used treatment distance of 33.1 ± 9.3 (25.5-60.0) cm was 27.8 ± 7.0 (14.7-42.0) μW/cm2/nm. Sixty-two percent of the devices did not meet the minimum recommended spectral irradiance for intensive PT. For the sites without irradiance-based protocols, the maximum irradiance of the devices (n = 33) at the treatment distances was 25.8 ± 6.1 μW/cm2/nm. Conclusions: Despite established PT guidelines, local protocols and practices vary. Based on an assessment of 7 local hospitals, intensive PT was suboptimal for 62% of devices. Straightforward changes, such as decreasing the distance between an infant and the light source and establishing a consistent irradiance-based protocol, could substantially improve the quality of the intervention.
- Neonatal jaundice