Working toward quality in obstetric anesthesia: a business approach

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Purpose of review

Physicians are increasingly required to demonstrate that they provide quality care. How does one define quality? A significant body of literature in industries outside of health care provides guidance on how to define appropriate metrics, create teams to troubleshoot problem areas, and sustain those improvements.

Recent findings

The modern quality movement in the United States began in response to revolutionary gains in both quality and productivity in Japanese manufacturing in the 1980's. Applying these lessons to the healthcare setting has been slow. Hospitals are only now introducing tools such as failure mode and effect analysis, Lean and Six Sigma into their quality divisions and are seeing significant cost reductions and outcomes improvements.


The review will discuss the process for creating an effective quality program for an obstetric anesthesia division. Sustainable improvements in delivered care need to be based on an evaluation of service line needs, defining appropriate metrics, understanding current process flows, changing and measuring those processes, and developing mechanisms to ensure the new processes are maintained.

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