Concerning Delivery Complications

Delivery complications happen more often when the healthcare provider delivers less babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Choosing a hospital and doctor to deliver your baby based on proximity to your house is a good idea because labor can sometimes go quite quickly. Is this the best way to reduce the likelihood of complications though?

A recent case review finds women whose babies are delivered by doctors with a low-volume obstetrical practice are 50 percent more likely to experience complications than women whose physicians deliver lots of babies.

"Go to an ob/gyn who delivers lots of babies."

The authors of this study report that after examining the data, there was no reportable relationship between rates of maternal complications and hospital volume. On the other hand, women who used physicians that deliver fewer than seven babies yearly were 50 percent more likely to run into complications around their delivery compared to the women whose physicians deliver the most babies. Additionally, every complication examined occurred more often with the low-volume providers' patients.

The study's authors recommend referrals to high-volume ob/gyns and continuing education for low-volume providers. These two strategies, the authors surmise, will encourage better outcomes.

This study was designed to examine if complications during childbirth were more likely to occur in low-volume hospitals or with a low-volume delivery professional. Over 900,000 women who delivered in 1,365 acute care United States hospitals during 2007 were included. Hospitals with the lowest-volume of deliveries included hospitals with less than 255 deliveries that year. Hospitals with the highest-volumes had over 1,700 deliveries in 2007.

Healthcare providers in the lowest-volume delivered less than eight deliveries annually while the highest-volume physicians delivered over 90 babies that year. The four complication categories were hemorrhaging, infections, lacerations and thromboses. Physician volume, hospital volume and likelihood of complications were considered.

This study is published in the online version of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 27, 2011
Last Updated:
August 27, 2011