Obstetric Anesthesia Workforce Survey: A 30-Year Update

Anesth Analg. 2016 Jun;122(6):1939-46. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001204.


Background: Obstetric Anesthesia Workforce Surveys were conducted in 1981, 1992, and 2001, and the 10-year update was conducted in 2012. Anesthesia providers from US hospitals were surveyed to identify the methods used to provide obstetric anesthesia. Our primary hypothesis was that the provision of obstetric anesthesia services has changed in the past 10 years.

Methods: A sample of hospitals was generated based on the number of births per year and US census region. Strata were defined as follows: I ≥ 1500 annual births (n = 341), II ≥ 500 to 1499 annual births (n = 438), and III < 500 annual births (n = 414). Contact email information for the anesthesia provider in charge of obstetric services was obtained by phone call. Electronic questionnaires were sent through email.

Results: Administration of neuraxial (referred to as "regional" in previous surveys) labor analgesia was available 24 hours per day in all stratum I hospitals responding to the survey. Respondents across all strata reported high rates of in-house coverage, with 86.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 82.7%-90%) of stratum I providers reporting that they provided in-house anesthesiology services for obstetrics. The use of patient-controlled epidural analgesia in stratum I hospitals was reported to be 35% in 2001 and 77.6% (95% CI = 73.2%-82.1%) in this survey. Independent Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists were reported to provide obstetric anesthesia services in 68% (95% CI = 57.9%-77.0%) of stratum III hospitals. Although 76% (95% CI = 71.2%-80.3%) of responding stratum I hospitals allow postpartum tubal ligations, 14% report inadequate staffing to provide anesthesia either always or at off-hours.

Conclusions: Since 2001, there have been significant changes in how responding hospitals provide obstetric anesthesia care and staff the labor and delivery ward. Obstetric anesthesia surveys, updated every 10 years, continue to provide information about changes in obstetric anesthesia practice.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • After-Hours Care / trends
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical / trends*
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled / trends
  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital / trends*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / trends*
  • Anesthesiologists / supply & distribution
  • Anesthesiologists / trends*
  • Cesarean Section / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Live Birth
  • Nurse Anesthetists / supply & distribution
  • Nurse Anesthetists / trends*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / trends
  • Platelet Count / trends
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Sterilization, Tubal / trends
  • Time Factors
  • United States