Substandard factors in perinatal care in The Netherlands: a regional audit of perinatal deaths.
SourceActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 81, 1, (2002), pp. 17-24
Article / Letter to editor
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Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
BACKGROUND: To determine: 1) whether substandard factors were present in cases of perinatal death, and to what extent another course of action might have resulted in a better outcome, and 2) whether there were differences in the frequency of substandard factors by level of care, particularly between midwives and gynecologists/obstetricians and between home and hospital births. METHODS: Population-based perinatal audit, with explicit evidence-based audit criteria. SETTING: The northern part of the province of South-Holland in The Netherlands. All levels of perinatal care (primary, secondary and tertiary care, and home and hospital births) were included. CASES: Three hundred and forty-two cases of perinatal mortality (24 weeks of pregnancy--28 days after birth). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Scores by a Dutch and a European audit panel. Score 0: no substandard factors identified; score 1, 2 or 3: one or more substandard factors identified, which were unlikely (1), possibly (2) or probably (3) related to the perinatal death. RESULTS: In 25% of the perinatal deaths (95% Confidence Interval: 20-30%) a substandard factor was identified that according to the Dutch panel was possibly or probably related to the perinatal death. These were mainly maternal/social factors (10% of all perinatal deaths; most frequent substandard factor: smoking during pregnancy), and antenatal care factors (10% of all perinatal deaths; most frequent substandard factor: detection of intra-uterine growth retardation). We did not find statistically significant differences in scores between midwives and gynecologists/obstetricians or between home and hospital births. The European panel identified more substandard factors, but these were again equally distributed by level of care. CONCLUSIONS: Perinatal deaths might be partly preventable in The Netherlands. There is no evidence that the frequency of substandard factors is related to specific aspects of the perinatal care system in The Netherlands.
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