Objectives: Severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are one of the major causes of maternal mortality globally. Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality demands optimizing quality of care. Criteria-based audits are a tool to define, assess and improve quality of care. The aim of this study was to determine applicability of a criteria-based audit to assess quality of care delivered to women with severe hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and to assess adherence to protocols and quality of care provided at a regional hospital in Accra, Ghana.
Methods: Checklists for management of severe preeclampsia, hypertensive emergency and eclampsia were developed in an audit cycle based on nine existing key clinical care protocols. Fifty cases were audited to assess quality of care, defined as adherence to protocols. Analysis was stratified for complicated cases, defined as (imminent) eclampsia, perinatal mortality and/or one or more WHO maternal near miss C-criteria.
Results: Mean adherence to the nine protocols ranged from 15-85%. Protocols for 'plan for delivery' and 'magnesium sulphate administration' were best adhered to (85%), followed by adherence to protocols for 'eclampsia' (64%), 'severe pre-eclampsia at admission' (60%), 'severe pre-eclampsia ward follow-up' (53%) and 'hypertensive emergency' (53%). Protocols for monitoring were least adhered to (15%). No difference was observed for severe disease. Increased awareness, protocol-based training of staff, and clear task assignment were identified as contributors to better adherence.
Conclusion: A criteria-based audit is an effective tool to determine quality of care, identify gaps in standard of care, and allow for monitoring and evaluation in a health facility, ultimately resulting in improved quality of care provided and reduced maternal morbidity and mortality. In our audit, good adherence was observed for plan for delivery and treatment with magnesium sulphate. Substandard adherence to a number of protocols was identified, and points towards opportunities for targeted improvement strategies.