Neonatal period is a peculiar life stage. This study aimed to characterize newborns' visits to the emergency department (ED) of a secondary care hospital.
Retrospective analysis of infants up to 28 days, who resorted to the ED between January and December of 2014, was performed. The data included newborn and maternal demographic characteristics and characterization of visits in the ED.
From 378 newborns' visits in the ED, 77 were excluded because the visits did not meet the inclusion criteria. From the remaining 301 visits, corresponding to 266 newborns, 56 newborns were referred to hospital care by another doctor, and 34 returned to ED in the neonatal period. The majority of newborns were full term (94%), born by vaginal delivery (55.1%), and had an appropriate birth weight for gestational age (94%). The main reasons for ED visits were gastrointestinal symptoms (33.8%), mucocutaneous lesions (21.4%), and jaundice (16.2%). Half (53%) of the newborns' visits were considered nonurgent. Emergency department visits for reasons justifying medical evaluation were higher in those referred by another doctor (P < 0.001). The rate of hospitalization or guidance for consultation was higher in newborns referred by another doctor (P = 0.017), in those whose color attributed by Manchester Triage System was yellow or orange (P = 0.029) and in newborns older than 7 days (P = 0.035).
The majority of ED visits is owing to insufficient caretaker knowledge or benign symptoms without necessity of immediate medical evaluation. These results emphasize the need for parents' education by health professionals.