Improvement in Outcomes of Major Obstetric Hemorrhage Through Systematic Change

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To report the outcomes over 14 years of sustained systematic institutional focus on the care of women with major obstetric hemorrhage, defined as estimated blood loss greater than 1,500 mL.

METHODS:

A retrospective cohort study of women with major obstetric hemorrhage at our hospital from 2000 to 2014 compares baseline conditions (age, multiparity, prior cesarean delivery, morbidly adherent placenta), morbidity (lowest mean temperature, lowest mean pH, coagulopathy, hysterectomy), and mortality among three time periods (period 1=January 2000 to December 2001, period 2=January 2002 to August 2005, period 3=September 2005 to December 2014). We also describe the systematic changes that helped to sustain our improved outcomes.

RESULTS:

During the three time periods, there were 5,811, 12,912, and 38,971 births; the rate of major obstetric hemorrhage increased over these periods: 2.1, 3.8 and 5.3 cases per 1,000 births, respectively. Two deaths from hemorrhage occurred in period 1 and none thereafter. Among women who experienced massive hemorrhage, morbidity significantly improved in each successive period: median lowest pH increased from 7.23 to 7.34 to 7.35 (periods 2 and 3 significantly higher than period 1), median lowest maternal temperature (°C) improved, 35.2 to 36.1 to 36.4 (all difference significant), and the rate of coagulopathy decreased, 58.3% to 28.6% to 13.2% (period 3 significantly lower than periods 1 and 2) (all P values <.001). Peripartum hysterectomies were more frequent and more frequently planned over time rather than urgent in each successive period: 0 of 6 to 6 of 18 (33%) to 31 of 64 (48.4%) (P=.044). During period 3, we reorganized the obstetric rapid response team, instituted a massive transfusion protocol and use of uterine balloon tamponade, and promoted a culture of safety in two ways—through more intensive education regarding hemorrhage and escalation (encouraging all staff to contact senior leaders).

CONCLUSION:

A sustained level of patient safety is achievable when treating major obstetric hemorrhage, as shown by a progressive decrease in morbidity despite increasing rates of hemorrhage.

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