Objectives: To improve obstetric care and reduce the incidence of uterine rupture through the use of audits.
Methods: Data were collected from medical records and from questioning women who sustained uterine rupture over a 12-month period in Thyolo District Hospital, Malawi. Audit sessions were performed every 2-3 weeks for the first 3 months with relevant members of the hospital staff, after which an extended audit was held with input from two external expert obstetricians. Cases were also audited by the principal investigator for delays in referral, diagnosis, and treatment.
Results: Thirty-five cases of uterine rupture were diagnosed at the facility during the study period. Sixteen ruptures were diagnosed during the first 3 months, an incidence of 19.2 per 1000 deliveries. Following audit and implementation of recommendations, the incidence of uterine rupture decreased by 68% (OR 0.32; 95% CI, 0.16-0.63) to 6.1 per 1000 deliveries over the next 9 months. The overall case fatality rate was 11.4%, and the perinatal mortality rate was 829 per 1000 live births.
Conclusions: Audit is an inexpensive, appropriate, and effective intervention to improve the quality of facility-based maternal care and decrease the incidence of uterine rupture in low-resource settings. Ensuring constructive self-criticism, continuous professional learning, and good participation by district health managers in audit sessions may be important requirements for their success.