Bringing Your Baby Home from the Neonatal ICU

New parents can't, and should not be asked to, tell by looking at the baby how things are going.
  • Your baby has any condition that might impair development, such as some kinds of seizures, fluid on the brain, or abnormal muscle tone. Many such conditions respond to prompt non-medical treatment, such as "early intervention" physical and occupational therapy.
  • Your baby has not had, or has had an abnormal, hearing test screen. The sooner a hearing-impaired baby is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for language and learning.
  • Once You've Caught Your Breath, Review the Medical Records You've Brought Home

    You're not being paranoid or distrustful, just vigilant.

    • The Discharge Orders you already have should include everything mentioned in the Discharge Summary, once it becomes available. Look at the last part of the Summary, usually labeled "Plan," to check this.
    • The entire Discharge Summary should agree with your understanding of your baby's problems, course, and treatment.
    • The Admitting History and Physical should be accurate. You should find the baby's birth weight, circumstances of pregnancy and birth, family history.
    • There are no surprises -- no mention of an incident or diagnosis that you aren't aware of.
    • Your own information (name, phone number, address etc.) is accurate, in case the hospital needs to reach you for any reason.

    If you find an omission, error, or inconsistency, make an appointment with your pediatrician and take the papers and your notes with you.

    There. Now you have done your homework, and can concentrate fully on Cherub.

    Dr. Laura Nathanson is the author of What You Don't Know Can Kill You (Published by Collins; May 2007; $15.95US/$19.95CAN) and The Portable Pediatrician (Collins, 2002), as well as several other books. She has practiced pediatrics for more than thirty years, is board certified in pediatrics and peri-neonatology, and has been consistently listed in The Best Doctors in America. For more information, please visit Dr. Nathanson's site.

    Copyright © Laura Nathanson. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC