The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued a new quality standard on 18 December which sets out priorities for health professionals on the use of antibiotics to prevent and treat infections in newborn babies. Bacterial infections are a significant cause of serious illness and death in newborn babies. Recognising a mother and baby at risk or showing signs of infection is vital, as is prompt treatment.  Sands is pleased to support NICE’s ‘quality standard‘, which shows what good care looks like, so health professionals know whether they’re delivering it and parents know whether they’re receiving it.

The quality standard includes 6 statements to help reduce newborn deaths and improve the treatment of pregnant women and babies who need antibiotics for an infection, including:

• Thoroughly assessing pregnant women and newborn babies to identify any clinical signs that put a newborn at risk of infection.

• Offering a preventative course of antibiotics to women as soon as possible during labour if they are at risk of passing an infection on to their newborn.

• Administering antibiotics within 1 hour if it is decided that a newborn needs treatment, even if test results are yet to come through.

To ensure appropriate prescribing the standard also states that any newborn baby who starts antibiotic treatment should be reassessed at 36 hours to check whether or not they still need them. The reassessment should include any test results that weren’t previously considered. Antibiotic treatment may be stopped if the initial suspicion of infection was not strong, test results are negative and the baby’s clinical condition is reassuring.

This quality standard will help commissioners, health care professionals and service providers improve the quality of services to prevent and treat neonatal infection in newborns. It can also be used by patients, families or carers of patients to understand what high quality care they could be getting. It is derived from evidence based guidance or other NICE accredited sources and has been developed with help from health care professionals, patients and service users and other stakeholders.

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