Hospitals Reduce Birth Injuries

Efforts to improve teamwork and communication have substantially  reduced births resulting in traumatic injury .

Many of the Seaton hospitals have worked with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to reduce preventable childbirth injuries by " improving communications, standardizing procedures and reducing risky methods that speed deliveries, including forceps use, vacuum deliveries and medication to induce labor," according to an article in the American-Statesman.

The paper reports that overall the actions have "reduced traumatic birth injuries from 3.2 per 1,000 in 2004 (less than half the national average) to 0.3 injuries per 1,000."

This is wonderful news.  Hopefully other hospitals will follow the lead of these institutions and adopt these same policies, procedures and training methods to reduce injuries and death.

There is one troubling thing about this report, however.   In virtually every birth trauma case several doctors are prepared to or do swear until oath that the injuries to the child could not have been prevented.  If that testimony is true, how then did these facilities manage to reduce injuries by almost 90%?  Note too that the article does not mention that new equipment or some sort of expensive testing was required to prevent these injuries.  Rather, they  worked on "improving communications, standardizing procedures and reducing risky methods that speed deliveries, including forceps use, vacuum deliveries and medication to induce labor" and were taught to follow "national best practices and … use the same language to prevent misunderstandings of fetal monitor readings and descriptions of a patient’s progress." 

National best practices?  Hmm.  That almost sounds like a national standard of care.  I didn’t think there was such a thing.  Then again, I live in Tennessee, where the doctors managed to convince the Legislature that (a) doctors and nurses who live in rural areas could not be trained like doctors and nurses who live in urban areas and (b) no doctor or nurse from a non-contigious state was competent to testify about the standard of care in Tennessee (absent permission from the Court).

But, I do not want to dwell on the negative.  This report is wonderful news for the patients at these facilities and, as I said above, will hopefully serve as an inspiration to other facilities.