A national survey of obstetric early warning systems in the United Kingdom

Int J Obstet Anesth. 2009 Jul;18(3):253-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijoa.2009.01.008. Epub 2009 May 19.


Background: Despite recommendations in the two most recent Confidential Enquiries into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) reports, and improvements in patient care using early warning scoring systems (EWS) in the general adult population, no validated system currently exists for the obstetric population.

Methods: We performed an Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association (OAA) approved postal survey of all UK consultant-led obstetric anaesthetic units in November 2007 to assess opinions on the value and of such a system and how it could be implemented, and invited comments and samples of systems already in use.

Results: The response rate was 71%. Of those who replied a median usefulness score of 80% for a standardised national obstetric EWS was demonstrated. Eighty-nine percent of units thought it would be possible to implement a system, and although 96% of UK hospitals already use a non-obstetric EWS, only 23% of respondents thought this to be relevant to obstetric physiology and disease. Nine units returned copies of their obstetric EWS. Using extracts from some of the submitted versions we have designed and implemented a system locally and submitted it to the OAA for consideration.

Conclusions: The survey results support CEMACH recommendations for a nationally agreed obstetric EWS.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / standards*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Research Design
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom