Amidst rising maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the U.S., The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recently released their latest perspective on levels of maternal care. The purpose of maternal levels of care is to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and existing disparities by implementing “uniform definitions, a standardized description of maternity facility capability and personnel, and a framework for integrated systems that addresses maternal health needs.” The birthing facility levels are: basic (level 1); specialty care (level II), subspecialty care (level III) and regional perinatal health care centers (level IV).
Several states, including Georgia, Indiana, Iowa and Texas, have taken the step to adopt the new level of care designations. Although each state’s level designations are different, the common goal is to standardize care for all pregnant women who present to a birthing facility and to minimize bad outcomes. For certain levels, an OB/GYN is required to be on site and available for urgent situations 24/7.
Earlier this year, Dr. Charles Jaynes, Ob Hospitalist Group’s senior director of medical operations, wrote a piece for Fierce Healthcare, “Four ways healthcare organizations can prepare for new maternal care designations.” Here are his recommendations for hospital leaders:
- Prepare your labor and delivery for your desired designation before you’re required to.
- Ascertain the percent of payer volume attributable to Medicaid births and accelerate accordingly.
- Optimize patient care by beginning a dialogue with your community partners.
- Share evidence-based outcome data among policymakers, health regulators and hospital administrators to determine the impact of the maternal leveling and make necessary adjustments to enhance patient care.
Ob Hospitalist Group is aligned with ACOG and SMFM when it comes to their recommendations around enhanced standardization in women’s healthcare. We have seen many examples within our partner hospitals where patient safety has improved as a result of implementing standardized protocols and around-the-clock presence of an experienced OB/GYN. We believe maternal level of care requirements will make a major impact on maternal safety and we hope more states adopt the designations in the near future.