The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The Joint Commission recently announced a new collaborative initiative, the Maternal Levels of Care Verification program. The program, aimed at reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, will become available January 1, 2022, and will be guided by the four levels of care defined by the Levels of Maternal Care Obstetric Care Consensus.
The Levels of Maternal Care Obstetric Care Consensus defines the required minimal capabilities, physical facilities, and medical and support personnel for each level of care, which includes:
- Level I (basic care)
- Level II (specialty care)
- Level III (subspecialty care)
- Level IV (regional perinatal health care centers)
Under the consensus document, Level III and IV designations require an OB/GYN to be onsite at all times and also require an MFM, anesthesiologist, specialty and critical care physicians to be available at all times. In addition to optimizing resources to support patient care, savvy healthcare consumers may view these requirements positively.
Several models meet the 24/7 obstetrical coverage requirement, with the most comprehensive being a full-service model like OBHG’s, involving the recruitment and management of OB hospitalists who provide a wide array of clinical services, implement the program and oversee its operation.
For example, under OBHG’s Obstetrical Emergency Department model, all OB patients presenting with an emergency condition are seen by a physician or midwife alongside the obstetrical nurse. Hospitalist clinicians act as emergency first responders for all patients in labor and delivery to improve outcomes in an emergent situation. That model provides 100% compliance with the maternal leveling recommendations while reducing malpractice risk, improving patient outcomes, and driving patient satisfaction.
The trend towards maternal care designations
The new ACOG/The Joint Commission verification program will allow any hospital in the United States to receive an objective assessment of their specific level of care. “By verifying that a hospital treats only the patients it has the expertise, equipment, and resources to care for, Maternal Levels of Care Verification facilitates more safe, successful births and maternal outcomes. With verification, a facility can strengthen the community’s confidence in the quality and safety of its services and treatments,” states The Joint Commission website.
So far, several states have already passed legislation to establish levels of maternal care designations for all hospitals that provide maternity care, and more states are expected to do the same.
OBHG is aligned with the maternal leveling 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 the around-the-clock presence of an experienced OB/GYN. We believe the maternal level of care requirements will make a major impact on maternal safety and we hope more states adopt the designations soon.
To learn more about preparing for maternal care designations, you may want to check out OBHG’s Dr. Charlie Jayne’s Fierce Healthcare article, “Four ways healthcare organizations can prepare for new maternal care designations.”
You can also listen to The Obstetrics Podcast episode on What hospital leaders need to know about maternal levels of care from the podcast page or from the player below: