QI programs help reduce early elective deliveries

Multistate, hospital-based quality improvement programs can be effective at reducing early elective deliveries of babies, according to a study.

The rate of elective early term deliveries at a group of 25 participating hospitals fell from 27.8% to 4.8% during the one-year project period, representing an 83% decline, according to results published April 5 on the website of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“This quality improvement program demonstrates that we can create a change in medical culture to prevent unneeded early deliveries and give many more babies a healthy start in life,” the study¬ís lead author, Bryan T. Oshiro, MD, of Loma Linda (Calif.) University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

As part of the initiative, hospitals in five states implemented a toolkit called “Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries before 39 Weeks Gestational Age,” designed to guide changes in early-term delivery practices.

The proportion of babies born at 37 and 38 weeks decreased during the one-year study period among hospitals participating in the initiative, with the proportion born at 39 to 41 weeks correspondingly increasing, noted Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, medical director of the March of Dimes.

“Additional studies, perhaps over a longer period of time, could clarify whether such quality improvement programs also can bring down a hospital¬ís overall preterm birth rate,” McCabe said in the news release. •

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