10/16/18

Congress demands answers from health systems on rising maternal deaths, and we’ve got a solution

We’ve all heard the shocking statistic by now: the U.S. has the highest maternal death rate of any developed country – 26.4 per 100,000 births. USA TODAY has been investigating this issue in its “Deadly Deliveries” series since July, when they repeatedly contacted 75 hospitals in 13 states to find out if they were following best practice safety protocols. Half wouldn’t answer the questions.

As a result, the seemingly inconsistent maternal delivery practices have attracted the attention of U.S. Congress members. Last week, the Congressional House Committee on Ways and Means mailed letters to 15 of the country’s largest hospital systems* that operate more than 900 hospitals and together delivered more than one in five babies in 2015. The committee is requesting that leaders answer questions and provide investigators with copies of their childbirth safety protocols and data on mothers’ deaths and injuries. Hospitals have until November 15 to respond.

So, what can hospitals do to keep women safer during childbirth?
Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG) team members talk to hospital leaders on a weekly basis about their labor and delivery department’s safety protocols. A primary reason why hospital leaders reach out to OBHG is to enhance patient safety for all pregnant women who come to their hospitals emergently. OBHG’s partners, including CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-South in Corpus Christi, TX, reap the benefits of OBHG’s safety protocols:

“There is a physician here, ready to handle any emergency that arises in our labor and delivery unit,” said Lenora Sevcik, director of women’s services. “They also stand in if there’s an imminent delivery…they are a second opinion for our nursing staff. So, it is a tremendous safety net of having OBHG at our facility.”

As the pioneers of OB hospitalist medicine, OBHG has 12 years of singularly focused experience and currently has 160 hospital partners across 32 states. We believe that OB hospitalist programs are one of the solutions to the growing rate of maternal deaths. Here are some reasons why:

Standardized protocols: OBHG has developed a standard set of protocols for delivery complications such as preeclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage. We have also recently developed a C-section reduction toolkit to combat medically unnecessary C-sections. We track the data within each of our partner hospitals for benchmarking purposes. When a partner falls below a target, OBHG leaders assess the situation and develop an action plan to bring them back up to the standard; when a hospital demonstrates differentiated performance, OBHG leaders access what led to the strong performance and identify opportunities to bring those results to other programs. Because our partner hospitals are part of a 160-hospital network, each hospitalist team has access to others across the country. Clinicians can share scenarios and best practices to educate their peers and further enhance quality of care.

Continual coverage and triage: No matter the day or time, there is an experienced OBHG-employed hospitalist on-site, ready to perform triage and tackle any emergency that may come through the door. Community OB/GYNs can rest assured knowing that their patients will receive the best care if he/she cannot make it to the hospital. Nurses are not expected to lead deliveries. OBHG hospitalists give care to all, regardless of insurance type or prenatal care.

“OBHG hospitalists are there, waiting on emergencies to walk in, so they can have immediate access to medical intervention and to surgical intervention. They are the frontline defense of the life-saving measures that a hospital implements,” said Annette Stier, director of women’s & children’s services at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA.

At a time when the public, and now Congress, is focused on maternal safety, hospitals cannot afford not to implement the measures necessary to reduce malpractice risk and improve patient safety. There is no time like the present to consider an OB hospitalist program; every day delayed is another day mothers are put at risk and hospitals are exposed to potential liability. 

If you are interested in find out how an OBHG partnership can benefit your hospital and community, schedule a consultation to find out more.

*List of 15 hospital systems that received letter from Congress:
Adventist Health System, based in Altamonte Springs, Florida; Advocate Aurora Health, Downers Grove, Illinois; Ascension Healthcare, St. Louis, Missouri; Catholic Health Initiatives, Englewood, Colorado; Cleveland Clinic Health System, Cleveland, Ohio; Community Health Systems, Franklin, Tennessee; Dignity Health, San Francisco, California; HCA Healthcare, Nashville, Tennessee; Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, New York; Providence St. Joseph Health, Renton, Washington; Sutter Health, Sacramento, California; Tenet Healthcare Corporation, Dallas, Texas; Trinity Health, Livonia, Michigan; Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania