Implementing Obstetric Early Warning Systems

AJP Rep. 2018 Apr;8(2):e79-e84. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1641569. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Severe maternal morbidity and mortality are often preventable and obstetric early warning systems that alert care providers of potential impending critical illness may improve maternal safety. While literature on outcomes and test characteristics of maternal early warning systems is evolving, there is limited guidance on implementation. Given current interest in early warning systems and their potential role in care, the 2017 Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) Annual Meeting dedicated a session to exploring early warning implementation across a wide range of hospital settings. This manuscript reports on key points from this session. While implementation experiences varied based on factors specific to individual sites, common themes relevant to all hospitals presenting were identified. Successful implementation of early warnings systems requires administrative and leadership support, dedication of resources, improved coordination between nurses, providers, and ancillary staff, optimization of information technology, effective education, evaluation of and change in hospital culture and practices, and support in provider decision-making. Evolving data on outcomes on early warning systems suggest that maternal risk may be reduced. To effectively reduce maternal, risk early warning systems that capture deterioration from a broad range of conditions may be required in addition to bundles tailored to specific conditions such as hemorrhage, thromboembolism, and hypertension.

Keywords: Maternal Early Warning Triggers; Modified Early Warning Criteria; maternal morbidity; maternal mortality; modified early obstetric warning system.

Publication types

  • Editorial