Objectives: Local reviews of the care of women who die in pregnancy and post-birth should be undertaken. We investigated the quantity and quality of hospital reviews.
Design: Anonymised case notes review.
Participants: All 233 women in the UK and Ireland who died during or up to 6 weeks after pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management in 2012-2014.
Main outcome measures: The number of local reviews undertaken. Quality was assessed by the composition of the review panel, whether root causes were systematically assessed and actions detailed.
Results: The care of 177/233 (76%) women who died was reviewed locally. The care of women who died in early pregnancy and after 28 days post-birth was less likely to be reviewed as was the care of women who died outside maternity services and who died from mental health-related causes. 140 local reviews were available for assessment. Multidisciplinary review was undertaken for 65% (91/140). External involvement in review occurred in 12% (17/140) and of the family in 14% (19/140). The root causes of deaths were systematically assessed according to national guidance in 13% (18/140). In 88% (123/140) actions were recommended to improve future care, with a timeline and person responsible identified in 55% (77/140). Audit to monitor implementation of changes was recommended in 14% (19/140).
Conclusions: This systematic assessment of local reviews of care demonstrated that not all hospitals undertake a review of care of women who die during or after pregnancy and in the majority quality is lacking. The care of these women should be reviewed using a standardised robust process including root cause analysis to maximise learning and undertaken by an appropriate multidisciplinary team who are given training, support and adequate time.
Keywords: clinical governance; obstetrics; quality in health care; risk management.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.