Criteria for clinical audit of the quality of hospital-based obstetric care in developing countries

Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78(5):614-20.


Improving the quality of obstetric care is an urgent priority in developing countries, where maternal mortality remains high. The feasibility of criterion-based clinical audit of the assessment and management of five major obstetric complications is being studied in Ghana and Jamaica. In order to establish case definitions and clinical audit criteria, a systematic review of the literature was followed by three expert panel meetings. A modified nominal group technique was used to develop consensus among experts on a final set of case definitions and criteria. Five main obstetric complications were selected and definitions were agreed. The literature review led to the identification of 67 criteria, and the panel meetings resulted in the modification and approval of 37 of these for the next stage of audit. Criterion-based audit, which has been devised and tested primarily in industrialized countries, can be adapted and applied where resources are poorer. The selection of audit criteria for such settings requires local expert opinion to be considered in addition to research evidence, so as to ensure that the criteria are realistic in relation to conditions in the field. Practical methods for achieving this are described in the present paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Jamaica
  • Medical Audit*
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Quality of Health Care*