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Title Database Use in Neonatal Intensive Care Units: Success or Failure
Author(s) Terri A. Slagle, MD, and Jeffrey B. Gould, MD, MPH
Source Pediatrics, Vol. 90, No. 6, Pages 959-970
Publication Date December 1992
Abstract The purpose of this national survey was to define the extent and features of database use by 445 tertiary level neonatal intensive care nurseries in the United States. Of the 305 centers responding to our survey, 78% had a database in use in 1989 and 15% planned to develop one in the future. Nurseries varied remarkably in the volume of data collected, the amount of time devoted to completing data collection forms, and the personnel involved in data collection. Although data were used primarily for statistical reports (93% of nurseries), quality assurance (73%) and research activities (61%) were also enhanced by database information. Neonatal databases were used to generate reports for the permanent medical record in 38% of centers. Satisfaction with the database was dependent on how useful the database information was to centers which collected and actually used a large volume of information. Overall, nurseries expressed a high degree of confidence in the data they collected, and 65% felt their neonatal database information could be used directly in publication of research. It was disturbing that accuracy of data was not monitored formally by a majority of nurseries. Only 27% of centers followed a routine schedule of data quality assurance, and ony 53% had built-in error messages for data entry. We caution all who received database information in the form of morbidity and mortality statistics, clinical reports on patients cared for in neonatal units, and published manuscripts to be attentive to the quality of the data they consume. We feel that future database design efforts need to better address data quality control. Our findings stress the importance and need for immediate efforts to better address database quality control.

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