OBJECTIVE: To examine the current patterns of care for women at high risk for delivery-related morbidity to inform discussions about the feasibility of this regionalized approach. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study and linked 2014 American Hospital Association survey and State Inpatient Database data from seven representative states. We used American Hospital Association-reported hospital characteristics and State Inpatient Database procedure codes to assign a level of maternal care to each hospital. We then assigned each patient to a minimum required level of maternal care (I-IV) based on maternal comorbidities captured in the State Inpatient Database. Our outcome was delivery at a hospital with an inappropriately low level of maternal care. Comorbidities associated with delivery at an inappropriate hospital were assessed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The analysis included 845,545 deliveries occurring at 556 hospitals. The majority of women had risk factors appropriate for delivery at level I or II hospitals (85.1% and 12.6%, respectively). A small fraction (2.4%) of women at high risk for maternal morbidity warranted delivery in level III or IV hospitals. The majority (97.6%) of women delivered at a hospital with an appropriate level of maternal care, with only 2.4% of women delivering at a hospital with an inappropriate level of maternal care. However, 43.4% of the 19,988 high-risk patients warranting delivery at level III or IV hospitals delivered at level I or II hospitals. Women with comorbidities likely to benefit from specialized care (eg, maternal cardiac disease, placenta previa with prior uterine surgery) had high rates of delivery at hospitals with an inappropriate level of maternal care (68.2% and 37.7%, respectively). CONCLUSION: Though only 2.41% of deliveries occurred at hospitals with an inappropriate level of maternal care, a substantial fraction of women at risk for maternal morbidity delivered at hospitals potentially unequipped with resources to manage their needs. Promoting triage of high-risk patients to hospitals optimized to provide risk-appropriate care may improve maternal outcomes with minimal effect on most deliveries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology