Authors: Myiera H. Seymour and Dr. Leslie Parker, APRN, Ph. D
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leslie Parker, APRN, Ph. D
College: College of Nursing
Oral care guidelines are available for adult and pediatric populations, but universal guidelines are nonexistent in the neonatal intensive care unit. This project is aimed to determine current nursing oral care procedures. 132 neonatal nurses were surveyed during a neonatal nursing conference. Responses were anonymous. Over 95% of nurses surveyed agreed that oral care for hospitalized infants is important. 59% of the surveyed nurses had a formal protocol for their hospital however, only 36.7% of those nurses stated their unit adequately addressed oral care practices. 86% of nurses surveyed stated they performed oral care procedures independent from hospital protocol. To perform oral care, nurses used colostrum (32.6%), sterile water (28.6%), breast milk (27.3%), normal saline (6.73%), or other products (4.77%). Of the NICUs with a formal oral care protocol, 63% of nurses responded that oral care procedures were the same for all infants. Frequency of oral care varied with 55% performing oral care with every hands-on time, 16.6% every shift, and 28.8% as needed. Although the majority of nurses stated that oral care for infants in the NICU is important, tremendous variation in care exists. Research is needed to determine a universal procedure for oral care in these vulnerable infants.