Aim: To evaluate implementation and results of neonatal hearing screening with automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) by bedside nurses in a single-centre neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Methods: Retrospective review of charts of 2074 newborns admitted over a 4-year period.
Results: One thousand eight hundred and 24 newborns (88%) were screened. A ‘pass’ result was obtained in 1761 patients (96.5%). From 63 infants with ‘refer’, 40 were tested with auditory brainstem response: in 28 hearing loss was confirmed. Three hundred and nine neonates were screened before postmenstrual age (PMA) of 34 weeks: 78% successfully passed the first test. Sixty-seven infants with ‘refer’ at the first test before PMA of 34 weeks were re-evaluated: 48 had normal hearing tests, 24 of whom still younger than 34 weeks. For 12 of 19 infants with ‘refer’ before 34 weeks, follow-up was available: in 7 hearing loss was confirmed.
Conclusion: Neonatal hearing screening with AABR can be easily performed by the bedside nurse in the NICU even in premature babies before 34 weeks PMA. A ‘pass’ result can be obtained in almost 80% of them; a ‘refer’ result at that age, however, must be interpreted cautiously, as false ‘refer’ occurred in 5/12 of these infants.