Quality Assurance Practices in Obstetric Care: A Survey of Hospitals in California

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess hospital practices in obstetric quality management activities and identify institutional characteristics associated with utilization of evidence-supported practices.

METHODS:

Data for this study came from a statewide survey of obstetric hospitals in California regarding their organization and delivery of perinatal care. We analyzed responses from 185 hospitals that completed quality assurance sections of the survey to assess their practices in a broad spectrum of quality enhancement activities. The association between institutional characteristics and adoption of evidence-supported practices (ie, those supported by prior literature or recommended by professional organizations as beneficial for improving birth outcome or patient safety) was examined using bivariate analysis and appropriate statistical tests.

RESULTS:

Most hospitals regularly audited adherence to written protocols regarding critical areas of care; however, 77.7% and 16.8% reported not having written guidelines on diagnosis of labor arrest and management of abnormal fetal heart rate, respectively. Private nonprofit hospitals were more likely to have a written protocol for management of abnormal fetal heart rate (P=.002). One in 10 hospitals (9.7%) did not regularly review cases with significant morbidity or mortality, and only 69.0% regularly tracked indications for cesarean delivery. Moreover, 26.3%, 14.3%, and 8.7% of the hospitals reported never performing interprofessional simulations for eclampsia, shoulder dystocia, or postpartum hemorrhage, respectively. Teaching status was associated with more frequent simulations in these three areas (P≤.04 for all), while larger volume was associated with more frequent simulations for eclampsia (P=.04).

CONCLUSION:

Hospitals in California engage in a wide range of practices to assure or improve quality of obstetric care, but substantial variation in practice exists among hospitals. There is opportunity for improvement in adoption of evidence-supported practices.

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