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Perinatal mortality assessed: results of a regional audit

, : Perinatal mortality assessed: results of a regional audit. Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde 145(10): 482-487

To assess the level of suboptimal care prior to cases of perinatal death and the extent to which perinatal mortality can be reduced by further improvements in care. Retrospective panel audit investigation. Cases of perinatal death occurring in 1996 and 1997 among women living in the region Zuid-Holland-Noord, the Netherlands, were identified by approaching midwives, obstetricians/gynaecologists and paediatricians/neonatologists. The medical records of the cases were studied by an expert panel using a checklist of evidence-based criteria for standard care in order to determine circumstances and actions that did not comply with professional protocols, or that indicated either low compliance of the mother or an inadequate healthcare infrastructure (so-called sub-standard factors). The panel also assessed whether the perinatal death could have been prevented. A total of 342 perinatal deaths were found. For 332 cases sufficient information was available for a panel assessment and for 318 cases the panel reached a consensus on the assessment. One or more sub-standard care factors were identified in more than half of the cases. In 19% of the cases the panel agreed that the sub-standard factor had 'possibly' contributed to the death, and in 6% they agreed that the sub-standard factor had 'probably' contributed to the death. In the last group the main problems involved were antenatal care (particularly a failure to detect or inadequate management of intrauterine growth retardation) and intrapartum care (too much of a 'wait and see' approach). This regional audit revealed that further quality improvement of obstetric care is possible if clinical practice guidelines for effective and safe care are better implemented. It is expected that these improvements could reduce the perinatal mortality rate by between 6% and 25%.


PMID: 11268912

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