05/13/19
National Women’s Health Week: Three ways OB hospitalists make childbirth safer for women

The United States is the most dangerous developed country to deliver a baby and the maternal death rate is rising. Between 2000 and 2014, maternal mortality rose 26 percent.

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, we wanted to highlight one solution to this issue: experienced OB/GYNs who practice the most up-to-date protocols providing 24/7 coverage in hospitals. These OB/GYNs, called OB hospitalists, do not have private practices and provide a safety net for a woman’s OB/GYN. In other words, if a woman arrives at the hospital emergently and her OB/GYN cannot make it or is delayed, the OB hospitalist is there, ready to take immediate action to ensure both mother and baby have a safe delivery. An Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG) program provides clinical coverage and support to hospital labor and delivery departments. Our OB hospitalists provide onsite backup care for community physicians and also provide care to unassigned patients, or patients who do not have an OB/GYN.

To us, the value OB hospitalists bring to mothers is a no-brainer, but if you need further convincing, here are three ways an OB hospitalist presence makes childbirth safer.

#1 OB hospitalists exist to provide backup for OB/GYNs who may be miles away or unable to come at all
Let’s say you are pregnant … You’ve got your birth plan all set and you’re excitedly awaiting the arrival of your new baby. For unforeseen reasons, your water breaks in the middle of the night, four weeks ahead of schedule. You try getting ahold of your OB/GYN so she can meet you and your partner at the hospital, but then you remember that she is on a cruise in the Bahamas. Fortunately, your hospital has 24/7 OB hospitalist coverage and an OB emergency department that can provide immediate care. For you, it should be peace of mind knowing that your OB/GYN relies on the back-up coverage of the OB hospitalists.

But what happens in this scenario when your hospital does not have an OB hospitalist program in place? Typically, your OB/GYN practice will have an on-call physician who will meet you at the hospital. If you aren’t experiencing any emergency issues, then your delivery should go smoothly.  But what if this OB/GYN just worked five days in a row at his practice and hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a week? Or what if he lives 45 minutes away from the hospital and cannot get there fast enough to prevent serious complications? Every minute that a pregnant woman does not receive care during an emergency elevates the risk of harm or in worst cases, death to mother and/or baby. The safest solution is to have an OB/GYN present in hospitals around the clock just in case.

#2 OB hospitalists are focused solely on inpatient care
As the name signifies, OB hospitalists work exclusively in the hospital. They do not manage a private practice or see patients in the outpatient or office setting. This allows these hyper-focused OB/GYNs to maintain a healthy work-life balance and get the proper amount of rest before each shift. From a patient standpoint – wouldn’t you rather receive care from a well-rested and relaxed physician versus a sleep-deprived physician who has worked 40+ hours in the office and is scrambling to cover call at night? The presence of a sharp OB/GYN can make all the difference when it comes to patient safety.

An OB hospitalist presence also allows private-practice OB/GYNs to focus solely on their practices. They have the peace of mind knowing that an OB hospitalist is at the hospital 24/7, performing labor checks, rounding on postpartum patients and handling OB emergencies. OBHG hospitalists work closely with a pregnant woman’s OB/GYN and if a community OB/GYN does need to go to the hospital, he/she collaborates with the on-shift OB hospitalist to begin care immediately. In an emergency situation, it is always better to have a second set of hands in addition to nursing support to ensure the highest level of care possible for both mother and baby. 

#3 OBHG hospitalists are required to complete ongoing training that ensures the highest standard of care
OBHG clinicians improve the standard of care in partner hospitals by championing hospital protocols and procedures. Our hospitalists are required to undergo simulations and training on a regular basis to ensure clarity and consistency during potential high-risk complications. In addition to board certification for obstetrics and gynecology, our physicians are required to have additional training in advanced cardiac life support; neonatal resuscitation program; advanced fetal monitoring; operative delivery certification; shoulder dystocia management and healthcare communication strategies. We partner with community physicians to ensure that everyone is on the same page, practicing a high standard of care by way of training and periodic drills. OBHG clinicians implement standard protocols for issues such as preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage and hypertension. We have created a C-section reduction toolkit to do our part in reducing the number of medically unnecessary C-sections. Lastly, OBHG clinicians assist with training medical students and resident physicians.

OBHG celebrates women not just this week, but every week, elevating the standard of women’s healthcare in hospitals all across the country. To learn more about getting a program at your hospital, contact us to schedule a consultation.