Hospital groups take aim at making childbirth safer

September 1, 2006

Hospital groups nationwide are adopting programs and policies aimed at making childbirth safer. The move comes in the wake of soaring liability insurance premiums for obstetric units, as well as mounting evidence that labor-inducing drugs and other delivery room practices are endangering mothers and infants, according to the Wall Street Journal (7/12/2006).

Hospital groups nationwide are adopting programs and policies aimed at making childbirth safer. The move comes in the wake of soaring liability insurance premiums for obstetric units, as well as mounting evidence that labor-inducing drugs and other delivery room practices are endangering mothers and infants, according to the Wall Street Journal (7/12/2006).

Several risk-management initiatives are being adopted in obstetric units. To reduce the risk of emergency cesarean deliveries, admissions to neonatal intensive care units, and long-term health issues for children, some hospital groups are making it harder to schedule inducements before the 39-week minimum, unless medically necessary. They are also curtailing the use of drugs such as oxytocin, which at too-high doses can lead to ruptures of the uterus and fetal distress or death; and limiting the use of forceps and vacuums.

Additionally, physicians and nurses are being encouraged to use the same terms when reading heart monitors-using differing terminology often leads to miscommunication as to when an infant may be in distress. Finally, some hospitals have taken steps to educate mothers-to-be about the risks of early induction.