Background A project of follow-up for the benefit of the high-risk heart patient children subject to systemic pulmonary shunt has been started by the Paediatric Heart Surgery Department of the “Bambino Gesù” hospital. This project is run by a nurse.
Objective To abate potentially lethal events and re-hospitalisations for no cardiac events, through a post-discharge monitoring programme.
Method 34 patients with similar clinical features have been enlisted: (1) group A (hospitalisation from 2006 June to 2007 May) seven female and 10 male, included in the follow-up project, made use of the pulse oxymeter at home, the weight and feeding monitoring together with a programme of health education; (2) group B (hospitalisation from 2005 June to 2006 May) consisting of nine female and eight male, left out from the follow-up, because the project was not yet operating.
Results Early catheterisation was performed thanks to home pulse oxymeter in two cases, when pulmonary artery hypoplasia was detected. Rehospitalisation for no cardiac events were significantly reduced from 55% (B) to 10% (A), reduction of interstage mortality from 12% (B) to 1% (A).
Conclusions Nursing follow-up allowed mortality and morbidity reduction and lowered the gap between hospital and home. Offered a support to newborn heart patients’ families, lowering their anxiety, fears and sensation of impotency. Coming from the results and parents’ satisfaction, we can state that the follow-up programme was able to meet a real need of patients and their families.