BACKGROUND: The nulliparous term singleton vertex (NTSV) cesarean delivery rate has been recognized as a meaningful benchmark. Variation in the NTSV cesarean delivery rate among hospitals and providers suggests many hospitals may be able to safely improve their rates. The NTSV cesarean delivery rate at the authors' institution was higher than state and national averages. This study was conducted to determine the influence of a set of quality improvement interventions on the NTSV cesarean delivery rate.
METHODS: From 2008 through 2015, at a single tertiary care academic medical center, a multi-strategy approach that included provider education, provider feedback, and implementation of new policies was used to target evidence-based and inferred factors that influence the NTSV cesarean delivery rate. Data on mode of delivery, maternal outcomes, and neonatal outcomes were collected from birth certificates and administrative claims data. The Cochran-Armitage test and linear regression were used to calculate the p-trend for categorical and continuous variables, respectively.
RESULTS: More than 20,000 NTSV deliveries were analyzed, including more than 15,000 during the intervention period. The NTSV cesarean delivery rate declined from 35% to 21% over eight years. The total cesarean delivery rate declined as well. Increase in meconium aspiration syndrome and maternal transfusion were observed.
CONCLUSION: Quality improvement initiatives can decrease the NTSV cesarean delivery rate. Any increased incidence of fetal or maternal complications associated with decreased NTSV cesarean delivery rate should be considered in the context of the risks and benefits of vaginal delivery compared to cesarean delivery.
OBJECTIVE: To define, measure, and characterize key competencies of managing labor and delivery units in the United States and assess the associations between unit management and maternal outcomes.
METHODS: We developed and administered a management measurement instrument using structured telephone interviews with both the primary nurse and physician managers at 53 diverse hospitals across the United States. A trained interviewer scored the managers' interview responses based on management practices that ranged from most reactive (lowest scores) to most proactive (highest scores). We established instrument validity by conducting site visits among a subsample of 11 hospitals and established reliability using interrater comparison. Using a factor analysis, we identified three themes of management competencies: management of unit culture, patient flow, and nursing. We constructed patient-level regressions to assess the independent association between these management themes and maternal outcomes.
RESULTS: Proactive management of unit culture and nursing was associated with a significantly higher risk of primary cesarean delivery in low-risk patients (relative risk [RR] 1.30, 95% CI 1.02-1.66 and RR 1.47, 95% CI 1.13-1.92, respectively). Proactive management of unit culture was also associated with a significantly higher risk of prolonged length of stay (RR 4.13, 95% CI 1.98-8.64), postpartum hemorrhage (RR 2.57, 95% CI 1.58-4.18), and blood transfusion (RR 1.87, 95% CI 1.12-3.13). Proactive management of patient flow and nursing was associated with a significantly lower risk of prolonged length of stay (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.12-0.46 and RR 0.27, 95% CI 0.11-0.62, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Labor and delivery unit management varies dramatically across and within hospitals in the United States. Some proactive management practices may be associated with increased risk of primary cesarean delivery and maternal morbidity. Other proactive management practices may be associated with decreased risk of prolonged length of stay, indicating a potential opportunity to safely improve labor and delivery unit efficiency.
BACKGROUND: The gap between publishing and implementing guidelines differs based on practice setting, including hospital geography and teaching status. On March 31, 2006, a Practice Bulletin published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended against the routine use of episiotomy and urged clinicians to make judicious decisions to restrict the use of the procedure.
OBJECTIVE: This study investigated changes in trends of episiotomy use before and after the ACOG Practice Guideline was issued in 2006, focusing on differences by hospital geographic location (rural/urban) and teaching status.
METHODS: In a retrospective analysis of discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS)-a 20% sample of US hospitals-5,779,781 hospital-based births from 2002 to 2011 (weighted N = 28,067,939) were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression analysis to measure odds of episiotomy and trends in episiotomy use in vaginal deliveries.
RESULTS: The overall episiotomy rate decreased from 20.3% in 2002 to 9.4% in 2011. Across all settings, a comparatively larger decline in episiotomy rates preceded the issuance of the ACOG Practice Guideline (34.0% decline), rather than following it (23.9% decline). The episiotomy rate discrepancies between rural, urban teaching, and urban nonteaching hospitals remained steady prior to the guideline's release; however, differences between urban nonteaching and urban teaching hospitals narrowed between 2007 and 2011 after the guideline was issued.
CONCLUSION: Teaching status was a strong predictor of odds of episiotomy, with urban nonteaching hospitals having the highest rates of noncompliance with evidence-based practice. Issuance of clinical guidelines precipitated a narrowing of this discrepancy.
OBJECTIVE: To examine variation in the cesarean birth rates of women cared for by labor and delivery nurses.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: One high-volume labor and delivery unit at an academic medical center in a major metropolitan area.
PARTICIPANTS: Labor and delivery nurses who cared for nulliparous women who gave birth to term, singleton fetuses in vertex presentation.
METHODS: Data were extracted from electronic hospital birth records from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015. Cesarean rates for individual nurses were calculated based on the number of women they attended who gave birth by cesarean. Nurses were grouped into quartiles by their cesarean rates, and the effect of these rates on the likelihood of cesarean birth was estimated by a logit regression model adjusting for patient-level characteristics and clustering of births within nurses.
RESULTS: Seventy-two nurses attended 3,031 births. The mean nurse cesarean rate was 26% (95% confidence interval [23.9, 28.1]) and ranged from 8.3% to 48%. The adjusted odds of cesarean for births attended by nurses in the highest quartile was nearly 3 times (odds ratio = 2.73, 95% confidence interval [2.3, 3.3]) greater than for births attended by nurses in the lowest quartile.
CONCLUSION: The labor and delivery nurse assigned to a woman may influence the likelihood of cesarean birth. Nurse-level cesarean birth data could be used to design practice improvement initiatives to improve nurse performance. More precise measurement of the relative influence of nurses on mode of birth is needed.
Background Given increased public reporting of the wide variation in hospital obstetric quality, we sought to understand how women incorporate quality measures into their selection of an obstetric hospital. Methods We surveyed 6141 women through Ovia Pregnancy, an application used by women to track their pregnancy. We used t tests and chi-square tests to compare response patterns by age, parity, and risk status. Results Most respondents (73.2%) emphasized their choice of obstetrician/midwife over their choice of hospital. Over half of respondents (55.1%) did not believe that their choice of hospital would affect their likelihood of having a cesarean delivery. While most respondents (74.9%) understood that quality of care varied across hospitals, few prioritized reported hospital quality metrics. Younger women and nulliparous women were more likely to be unfamiliar with quality metrics. When offered a choice, only 43.6% of respondents reported that they would be willing to travel 20 additional miles farther from their home to deliver at a hospital with a 20 percentage point lower cesarean delivery rate. Discussion Women's lack of interest in available quality metrics is driven by differences in how women and clinicians/researchers conceptualize obstetric quality. Quality metrics are reported at the hospital level, but women care more about their choice of obstetrician and the quality of their outpatient prenatal care. Additionally, many women do not believe that a hospital's quality score influences the care they will receive. Presentations of hospital quality data should more clearly convey how hospital-level characteristics can affect women's experiences, including the fact that their chosen obstetrician/midwife may not deliver their baby.
OBJECTIVES: To examine the clinical utility and cost of follow-up ultrasounds performed as a result of suboptimal views at the time of initial second-trimester ultrasound in a cohort of low-risk pregnant women.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of women at low risk for fetal structural anomalies who had second-trimester ultrasounds at 16 to less than 24 weeks of gestation from 2011 to 2013. We determined the probability of women having follow-up ultrasounds as a result of suboptimal views at the time of the initial second-trimester ultrasound, and calculated the probability of detecting an anomaly on follow-up ultrasound. These probabilities were used to estimate the national cost of our current ultrasound practice, and the cost to identify one fetal anomaly on follow-up ultrasound.
RESULTS: During the study period, 1,752 women met inclusion criteria. Four fetuses (0.23% [95% CI 0.06-0.58]) were found to have anomalies at the initial ultrasound. Because of suboptimal views, 205 women (11.7%) returned for a follow-up ultrasound, and one (0.49% [95% CI 0.01-2.7]) anomaly was detected. Two women (0.11%) still had suboptimal views and returned for an additional follow-up ultrasound, with no anomalies detected. When the incidence of incomplete ultrasounds was applied to a similar low-risk national cohort, the annual cost of these follow-up scans was estimated at $85,457,160. In our cohort, the cost to detect an anomaly on follow-up ultrasound was approximately $55,000.
CONCLUSIONS: The clinical yield of performing follow-up ultrasounds because of suboptimal views on low-risk second-trimester ultrasounds is low. Since so few fetal abnormalities were identified on follow-up scans, this added cost and patient burden may not be warranted.
In high-income countries, medical interventions to address the known risks associated with pregnancy and birth have been largely successful and have resulted in very low levels of maternal and neonatal mortality. In this Series paper, we present the main care delivery models, with case studies of the USA and Sweden, and examine the main drivers of these models. Although nearly all births are attended by a skilled birth attendant and are in an institution, practice, cadre, facility size, and place of birth vary widely; for example, births occur in homes, birth centres, midwifery-led birthing units in hospitals, and in high intervention hospital birthing facilities. Not all care is evidenced-based, and some care provision may be harmful. Fear prevails among subsets of women and providers. In some settings, medical liability costs are enormous, human resource shortages are common, and costs of providing care can be very high. New challenges linked to alteration of epidemiology, such as obesity and older age during pregnancy, are also present. Data are often not readily available to inform policy and practice in a timely way and surveillance requires greater attention and investment. Outcomes are not equitable, and disadvantaged segments of the population face access issues and substantially elevated risks. At the same time, examples of excellence and progress exist, from clinical interventions to models of care and practice. Labourists (who provide care for all the facility's women for labour and delivery) are discussed as a potential solution. Quality and safety factors are informed by women's experiences, as well as medical evidence. Progress requires the ability to normalise birth for most women, with integrated services available if complications develop. We also discuss mechanisms to improve quality of care and highlight areas where research can address knowledge gaps with potential for impact. Evaluation of models that provide woman-centred care and the best outcomes without high costs is required to provide an impetus for change.
IMPORTANCE: Based on older analyses, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that cesarean delivery rates should not exceed 10 to 15 per 100 live births to optimize maternal and neonatal outcomes.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate the contemporary relationship between national levels of cesarean delivery and maternal and neonatal mortality.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional, ecological study estimating annual cesarean delivery rates from data collected during 2005 to 2012 for all 194 WHO member states. The year of analysis was 2012. Cesarean delivery rates were available for 54 countries for 2012. For the 118 countries for which 2012 data were not available, the 2012 cesarean delivery rate was imputed from other years. For the 22 countries for which no cesarean rate data were available, the rate was imputed from total health expenditure per capita, fertility rate, life expectancy, percent of urban population, and geographic region.
EXPOSURES: Cesarean delivery rate.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The relationship between population-level cesarean delivery rate and maternal mortality ratios (maternal death from pregnancy related causes during pregnancy or up to 42 days postpartum per 100,000 live births) or neonatal mortality rates (neonatal mortality before age 28 days per 1000 live births).
RESULTS: The estimated number of cesarean deliveries in 2012 was 22.9 million (95% CI, 22.5 million to 23.2 million). At a country-level, cesarean delivery rate estimates up to 19.1 per 100 live births (95% CI, 16.3 to 21.9) and 19.4 per 100 live births (95% CI, 18.6 to 20.3) were inversely correlated with maternal mortality ratio (adjusted slope coefficient, -10.1; 95% CI, -16.8 to -3.4; P = .003) and neonatal mortality rate (adjusted slope coefficient, -0.8; 95% CI, -1.1 to -0.5; P < .001), respectively (adjusted for total health expenditure per capita, population, percent of urban population, fertility rate, and region). Higher cesarean delivery rates were not correlated with maternal or neonatal mortality at a country level. A sensitivity analysis including only 76 countries with the highest-quality cesarean delivery rate information had a similar result: cesarean delivery rates greater than 6.9 to 20.1 per 100 live births were inversely correlated with the maternal mortality ratio (slope coefficient, -21.3; 95% CI, -32.2 to -10.5, P < .001). Cesarean delivery rates of 12.6 to 24.0 per 100 live births were inversely correlated with neonatal mortality (slope coefficient, -1.4; 95% CI, -2.3 to -0.4; P = .004).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: National cesarean delivery rates of up to approximately 19 per 100 live births were associated with lower maternal or neonatal mortality among WHO member states. Previously recommended national target rates for cesarean deliveries may be too low.
BACKGROUND: Reducing maternal and neonatal deaths are important global health priorities. We have previously shown that up to a country-level caesarean delivery rate (CDRs) of roughly 19·0%, cesarean delivery rates and maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and neonatal mortality rate (NMR) were inversely correlated. We investigated the absolute reductions in maternal and neonatal deaths if countries with low CDR increased their rates to a range of greater than 7·2% but less than or equal to 19·1%.
METHODS: We calculated maternal and neonatal deaths in 2013 and 2012, respectively, for countries with CDR 7·2% or less (N=45) with available data from the World Bank Development Indicators. We modelled the expected reduction in deaths in these countries if they had the 25th and 75th MMR and NMR percentiles observed for countries (N=48) with CDRs ranging from greater than 7·2% but less than or equal to 19·1%. This model assumes that if countries with low CDRs increased their rates of caesarean delivery to greater than 7·2% but less than or equal to 19·1%, they would achieve levels of MMR and NMR observed in countries with those CDRs.
FINDINGS: We estimate 176 078 (95% CI 163 258-188 898) maternal and 1 117 257 (95% CI 1 033 611-1 200 902) neonatal deaths occurred in 45 countries with low CDRs in 2013 and 2012, respectively. If these countries had the 25th and 75th MMR and NMR percentiles (MMR, IQR 36-190; NMR, 9-24) observed in countries (N=48) with a CDR ranging from greater than 7·2% but less than or equal to 19·1%, there would be a potential reduction of 109 762-163 513 and 279 584-803 129 maternal and neonatal deaths, respectively.
INTERPRETATION: Increasing caesarean delivery in countries with low CDRs could avert as many as 163 513 maternal deaths and 803 129 neonatal deaths annually. These findings assume that as health systems develop the capacity to deliver surgical care, there is a concurrent improvement in the quality of care and in the ability to rescue women and neonates who would otherwise die. Improving access to safe caesarean delivery should be a central focus in surgical care globally.