Failure to rescue: implications for evaluating quality of care during labor and birth

J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2005 Jan-Mar;19(1):24-34; quiz 35-6. doi: 10.1097/00005237-200501000-00008.


Failure to rescue is an indicator that has been used to measure quality of care for surgical patients by evaluating the number of patients who die after developing postoperative complications. There are 2 key components of failure to rescue: (a) careful surveillance and timely identification of complications and (b) taking action by quickly initiating appropriate interventions and activating a team response. This concept has not been explored as a potential method to evaluate quality of intrapartum care. In obstetrics, complications leading to death are relatively rare because mothers and infants are generally healthy. Thus, there are not large numbers of maternal or infant deaths in individual hospitals or healthcare systems that allow the types of statistical analyses that have been previously used to measure failure to rescue rates. With modifications in the measurement process for failure to rescue in this population, there are direct implications for perinatal patient safety and lessons to be learned. A new use of the failure to rescue concept in a population not previously considered is proposed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Nurse's Role
  • Obstetric Nursing / methods
  • Obstetric Nursing / organization & administration
  • Parturition
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Perinatal Care / organization & administration*
  • Perinatal Care / standards*
  • Physician-Nurse Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Treatment Failure
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality