A comprehensive perinatal patient safety program to reduce preventable adverse outcomes and costs of liability claims

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2009 Nov;35(11):565-74. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(09)35077-1.


Background: To achieve the goal of safe care for mothers and infants during labor and birth, Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP; Cincinnati) conducted on-site risk assessments at the 16 hospitals with perinatal units in 2004-2005, with follow-up visits in 2006 through 2008. ON-SITE RISK ASSESSMENTS: In addition to assessing overall organizational risk, the assessments provided each hospital a gap analysis demonstrating up-to-date and outdated practices and strategies and resources necessary to make all practices consistent with current evidence and national guidelines and standards. CRITICAL ASPECTS OF CLINICAL CARE: Review of claims and near-miss data indicate that fetal assessment, labor induction, and second-stage labor care comprise the majority of risk of perinatal harm. Therefore, these clinical areas were the focus of strategies to promote safety. To promote consistency in knowledge and practice, in 2004 a variety of strategies were recommended, including interdisciplinary fetal monitoring education and routine medical record reviews to monitor ongoing adherence to appropriate practice and documentation.

Outcomes: Success in implementing essential structural and process components of the perinatal patient safety program have resulted in improvement from 2003 to 2008 in specific outcomes for the 16 perinatal units surveyed, including reduction of perinatal harm, number of claims, and costs of claims.

Future directions: The program continues to evolve with modifications as needed as more evidence becomes available to guide best perinatal practices and new guidelines/standards are published. A patient safety program guided and supported by a health care system can result in safer clinical environments in individual hospitals and in decreased risk of preventable perinatal harm and liability costs.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Monitoring / standards
  • Fetal Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Medical Records
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / prevention & control*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Perinatal Care / methods*
  • Perinatal Care / organization & administration
  • Perinatal Care / standards
  • Personnel, Hospital / education
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Safety Management / standards