Safety Program Focusing On Birth Injuries Proves Effective

Millions of babies are born in U.S. hospitals every year. In roughly 9 percent of these births, something goes wrong. In those cases, a full 30 percent involve an avoidable error committed by doctors, nurses or other hospital staff. Fourteen hospitals decided to launch an initiative designed to improve perinatal care and reduce birth injuries. When the best practices laid out in the program were adopted, birth injuries dropped by 5.4 percent. The practices helped to reduce both maternal injuries and infant injuries that occur most often due to poor communication among obstetric staff.

According to a news release from the Premier healthcare alliance, the hospitals in the program saw a dramatic reduction of birth hypoxia and asphyxia cases, as well as a reduction in anesthesia complications and postpartum hemorrhaging. The program was launched in 2008 and had several goals beyond the reduction of serious birth injuries. The initiative also sought to improve the understanding of what harm was preventable and what was not. It aimed to figure out what hospital practices led to good or bad outcomes. It is also attempting to find the financial benefits of improving results, in terms of reduced hospital stays and a decrease in the number of medical malpractice claims a hospital faces.

Medical malpractice claims have been dropping for some time, though it is not clear if the quality of medical care has been a driving factor. The hospitals involved in this program have only partial data, as medical malpractice claims can be, and often are, filed up to two years after an injury occurs. Early data has tended to support the notion that improved quality care saves more money that it costs.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Safety initiative seen curbing birth injuries,” by Andis Robeznieks, 4 December 2012