Objective: Episiotomy practice in the United States has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and recent studies have questioned the utility of routine episiotomy. Our objective was to evaluate current episiotomy practice in a community hospital.
Study design: We reviewed vaginal deliveries at a community hospital from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2005. Maternal,fetal, labor and provider data were collected. Data were analyzed with t test, chi2 and logistic regression.
Results: A total of 2,959 deliveries by 17 practitioners were evaluated. The episiotomy rate increased for younger patients, with estimated fetal weight > 4,000 g, when presentation was not occiput anterior and with decreasing parity. Provider characteristics, such as a greater number of years in practice or when the delivering physician was not the outpatient physician, increased episiotomy rates. The overall episiotomy rate declined from 20.6% to 17.7% during the study; however, this did not reach statistical significance, and some practitioners had unchanged or increased rates.
Conclusion: Practitioner characteristics were the strongest predictors of episiotomy. Overall, the rate at this community hospital was within published recommendations, but wide variations in practice (range, 2-43%) suggest that education needs to target community physicians remote from training to ensure that all women receive optimal, evidence-based delivery care.