Study shows that severe maternal morbidity decreased with use of OB hospitalists

A new study shows that hospitals with 24/7 coverage of OB hospitalists have lower levels of severe maternal morbidity than those that use non-hospitalist OB/GYN providers. Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG) clinicians Dr. Amy VanBlaricom and Dr. Dyanne Tappin participated in the research, published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

The study included data from hospitals listed in USA TODAY’s 2019 article, “Deadly deliveries: Childbirth complications rates at maternity hospitals.” Through surveys conducted by the researchers, information on the presence or absence of 24/7 continuous providers in the hospital and the staffing model was collected. Results were then compared with severe maternal morbidity results cited in the USA TODAY article.

Of the 614 hospitals that responded to the survey, 57% of hospitals staffed their labor and delivery units with 24/7 coverage, with 46% of hospitals’ coverage primarily provided by an OB/GYN hospitalist. The severe maternal morbidity and presence of 24/7 coverage increased with the level of neonatal care and delivery volume. Of hospitals with 24/7 coverage, those that primarily used OB/GYN hospitalists had lower severe maternal morbidity for all mothers and for low-income mothers than those who primarily used non-hospitalist OB/GYN providers. This is one of the first studies to link OB/GYN hospitalist usage with severe maternal morbidity.

According to the study authors, some plausible reasons for the difference between hospitals that use OB hospitalists and those that don’t include quality and safety procedures and protocols that are in place in hospitals that use OB/GYN hospitalists. “The nature of a hospitalist’s job description lends itself to the implementation of systems changes leading to improvement in patient safety. Another possibility is that the increased clinical time within the inpatient practice leads to improved functional communication with other members of the multidisciplinary team.”

Results of the study indicate there is value added beyond the simple presence of an obstetrical provider.  “There is an urgent need for hospitals to address maternal mortality and morbidity,” said Dr. Dyanne Tappin, study author and OB hospitalist at Ob Hospitalist Group. “Not only do OB hospitalists evaluate patients and handle obstetrical emergencies, but they are also very focused on safety across the entire labor and delivery unit. An important part of what we do at OBHG is to work closely with hospitals to share best practices and implement protocols to ensure the best possible birth outcomes. This study further supports the major impact OB hospitalists have on positively impacting maternal morbidity.”

“OB/GYN hospitalists are at the ready, trained to intervene quickly and comfortable with every form of obstetrical emergency and management of obstetrical comorbidities,” said Dr. Amy VanBlaricom, study author and Chief Clinical Officer at Ob Hospitalist Group. “We are so proud to participate in this collaborative research with movement toward clarifying what we all know in our hearts to be true: patients are better served when an OB/GYN hospitalist is present.”

To access the Journal of Patient Safety article, Use of Obstetric and Gynecologic Hospitalists is associated with decreased severe maternal morbidity in the United States, click here.

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