A Multidisciplinary Approach to Improving Process and Outcomes in Unscheduled Cesarean Deliveries

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Effective communication between providers of various disciplines is crucial to the quality of care provided on labor and delivery. The lack of standardized language for communicating the clinical urgency of cesarean delivery and the lack of standardized processes for responding were identified as targets for improvement by the Obstetric Patient Safety Committee at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The committee developed and implemented a protocol aimed at improving the performance of our multidisciplinary team and patient outcomes.

Objective: To evaluate whether implementation of a multidisciplinary protocol that standardizes the language and process for performing unscheduled cesarean deliveries had reduced the decision to incision interval and improved maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Materials and methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent unscheduled cesarean delivery pre- and postimplementation of a protocol standardizing language, communication, provider roles, and processes. The primary outcome was cesarean decision to incision interval overall and stratified by fetal and nonfetal indications for delivery. Secondary outcomes included decision to operating room and operating room to incision intervals, operative complications, use of general anesthesia, maternal transfusion, 5-minute Apgar score <6, and umbilical cord arterial pH <7.2. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Continuous variables were tested for normality and compared using the Student t test or Mann-Whitney U test as appropriate. Categorical variables were characterized by proportions and compared by the χ2 or Fisher exact test as appropriate.

Results: There were 121 and 119 subjects in the pre-and postimplementation groups respectively, collected from corresponding 3-month periods. There were no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities, or indications for cesarean delivery between groups. Overall median decision to incision interval did not differ between the pre- and postimplementation groups. There was a significant decrease in median decision to incision interval (63 versus 50 minutes, P = .02) in cesarean deliveries performed for nonfetal indications. This was driven by a shorter median decision to operating room interval (32.5 versus 23 minutes, P = .01). The incidences of operative complications (35% [19/55] versus 11% [6/53], P < .01) and cord pH <7.2 (36% [20/55] versus 17% [9/53], P = .02) were also decreased in cesarean deliveries performed for nonfetal indications. The incidences of general anesthesia, maternal transfusion, and 5-minute Apgar score <6 did not differ. Outcomes did not differ between the pre- and postimplementation groups in cesarean deliveries performed for fetal indications.

Conclusion: Implementation of a multidisciplinary process improvement protocol that standardizes language, roles, and processes for unscheduled cesarean deliveries was associated with a reduced decision to incision interval and improved maternal and neonatal outcomes in cesarean deliveries performed for nonfetal indications. Standardized process implementation on labor and delivery has the potential to improve patient outcomes.