Aims The National Health Service, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and American Academy of Paediatrics have each published guidelines on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death by advising safe sleeping practices. We undertook a prospective audit to establish if this guidance was being followed in our unit.
Method Between May and November 2013, spot checks were made on postnatal wards, paediatric wards and the neonatal unit. The following were assessed for all patients; sleeping position, number of blankets, presence of soft toys, position of blanket in relation to face and whether feet were placed at the bottom of the cot. All patients under 6 months were included if they were asleep in a cot at the time of the check. Exclusion criteria were phototherapy and any respiratory support other than nasal prong oxygen.
Results A total of 149 patients were assessed. Of these 137 (91%) were supine; 31 (23%) had a loose soft object in the crib; 69 (46%) had their feet placed at the base of the cot; 12 (8%) had a blanket above the level of the shoulders; 73 (49%) parents reported receiving advice on sleeping position. Of the 12 patients who were not supine, 4 were on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and 1 was on the high dependency unit.
Conclusions Despite clear guidance, a significant proportion of inpatients are not sleeping in the safest way to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Nursing staff in hospital need education on safe sleeping practice for infants.