To examine the prevalence, characteristics, clinical course, and length of stay (LOS) among 4 groups of infants who were transferred for convalescence and subsequently discharged from the hospital; failed transfer for convalescence and were (a) either readmitted, or (b) transferred again; and were not transferred for convalescence.
Among very low birth weight infants hospitalized at US Vermont Oxford Network centers between 2006 and 2020, we examined the distribution of characteristics, delivery room and NICU usage measures, outcomes, and LOS among the 4 groups of infants.
Among 641 712 infants, a total of 28 985 (4.5%) infants were transferred for convalescent care; of 28 186 infants, 182 (0.65%) died before hospital discharge and 2551 (9.1%) failed the transfer (1771 [6.3%] were readmitted and 780 [2.8%] were transferred again). There were major regional and NICU variations in the practice of the transfer for convalescence; New England (18.8%) had the highest whereas East South Central (2.2%) had the lowest percentage of transfer for convalescence. Infants who transferred for convalescence and were discharged from the hospital had a similar LOS and similar distribution of NICU usage measures and outcomes to infants who were not transferred for convalescence. Infants who failed the transfer for convalescence had a longer LOS than infants who were transferred for convalescence and then discharged from the hospital.
The rates of transfer for convalescence and transfer for convalescence failure were low. Future studies should weigh the risks and benefits of transfer for convalescence, which might differ on the basis of geography.