The Golden Hour Check

A new Newborn ICU protocol is greatly enhancing infant safety and care.

For babies born prematurely, the care and treatment provided in that first “Golden Hour” upon admission to a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) can mean the difference between life and death, or the prevention of long-term health problems.

In June 2011, BC Women’s Newborn ICU care team launched an initiative to significantly improve the safety and quality of care babies receive by standardizing the delivery of care in that golden hour.

The new Golden Hour Check protocol carefully reviews a baby’s health status at one hour after admission in five critical areas – respiration, cardiovascular function, neurological response, fluid and glucose levels and body temperature.   The measurement results in each of these five vital areas determine whether the infant’s health status falls within the red (acute), yellow (requiring close monitoring) or green (normal) zone. If a baby’s health status falls into the red or yellow zones, immediate action is taken to stabilize the infant.

Other improvements to enhance care included clarifying Newborn ICU staff roles during the admission process, standardizing reporting procedures between caregivers, and reducing wait times for babies to receive X-rays and antibiotics by more than 50 per cent. 

Thanks to BC Women’s Newborn ICU team improvements, premature and critically-ill babies are receiving even safer, better care.