Background: In collaboration with the California Department of Health Maternal and Child Health Branch, the authors formed a Working Group to identify potential clinical indicators that could be used to inform decision making regarding maternal health care quality.
Objective: To develop potential indicators for the assessment of maternal health care quality.
Materials and methods: A Working Group was convened to review information from the published literature and expert opinion. Selection of potential indicators was guided by the following goals: 1) To identify key areas for routine aggregate monitoring; 2) To include perspectives of relevant stakeholders in maternal health care services; 3) To include measures that are comprehensive and reflect a balance between maternal and fetal interests; and 4) To develop measures that would be valid, generalizable, mutable, and feasible.
Results: Ninety potential indicators were identified. Each underwent a thorough review based on: its definition, objective, and validity; its contribution to innovation; the cost and timeliness of implementation; its feasibility, acceptability, and potential effectiveness; and its compatibility with ethics, values, and social policy. This process yielded 24 final indicators from the following categories: Health Status and Access (e.g., availability of 24 h inpatient anesthesia); Preconception and Interconception Care (e.g., Pap smear use); Antenatal Care (e.g., hospitalization for uncontrolled diabetes or pyelonephritis); Labor and Delivery Care (e.g., chorioamnionitis or obstetrical hemorrhage), and Postpartum Care (e.g., rate of postpartum visits).
Conclusions: These potential indicators, representative of the women's health continuum, can serve as a foundation to structure the development of consensus and methods for maternal health care quality assessment.