Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS and Eric Gibson, MD
Care for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) remains variable. Dr. Patrick describes his experience with the design and implementation of a multicenter quality improvement collaborative for infants with NAS in improving patient outcomes.
Pregnant women and infants have been substantially affected by the opioid epidemic. Over the last 15 years, there has been a nearly 7-fold increase in the number of infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Several factors can affect the successful treatment of NAS, such as infant sex, type of opiate exposure, and the type of pharmacotherapy utilized for treatment. Dr. Patrick proposes, however, that we may be able to treat fewer infants if we instead change the way we structure care. The effective transition of the dyad to the outpatient setting following discharge, rather than the sole focus reduced length of stay or cost of treatment may better define the successful treatment of NAS. As the director of the Center for Child Health Policy, Dr. Patrick has focused on improving NAS outcomes by increasing access to treatment for mothers, engaging families in inpatient NAS care, and keeping the dyad intact during the treatment process.