It sounds simple, but actually it turns out to be very complicated and controversial.
The question is are we improving our NICU ? Has our NICU performance remained the same for the past few years?
What about the performance of our NICU staff members (Medical and Nursing ) ? Are they improving themselves?
That was the easy part.
Now the difficult part.
We can only improve a thing which can be measured. So to improve our NICU, we have to monitor some parameters of our NICU and then trend it and then find what we want to improve in that measure and then plan an intervention and then implement that intervention and then monitor the performance after the implementation of the interventions. (phew that was difficult to type right !)
So lets see....if we heard that NICU in XYZ hospital had mortality of ELBW babies 5 years back of 50 % and that now they are reporting ELBW mortality of 20%...we definitely know they have improved themselves. How about nosocomial infection rate in a NICU in XYZ hospital was 5 per 1000 patient-days 5 years back and now was 1.5 per 1000 patient-days...we definitely know they have improved.
One very nice example to illustrate this improvement is here: http://www.lafayettegeneral.com/pavilion/Level-III-Neonatal-Intensive-Care-Unit-1/Key-Performance-Indicators-3
There are so many parameters to be monitored in a NICU..I think we just have to select what is suitable in our setup balancing our resources. We have to be cautious not to overdo it...as then it will only be on paper and have no actual benefit for the NICU.
the other (more difficult part) is to monitor the performance of NICU staff. Here also there are many options. One beloved one is compliance with infection control practices (especially ...hand hygiene). Success rate of intubations could be used for residents. How about IV infiltration (IV burns) rate for nurses? Morbidity/Mortality outcomes for consultants/attending ?
Once staff know that they are being monitored...performance automatically improves. Once you start rewarding good performance......then people start having a healthy competition to improve themselves....the ultimate winner is the patient...NICU performance measures improve.....And thats the ultimate aim...to improve patient outcomes...
The floor is open.