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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

How often will midwives and obstetricians experience obstetric emergencies or high-risk deliveries: a national cross-sectional study

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OBJECTIVE: To estimate how often midwives, specialty trainees and doctors specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology are attending to specific obstetric emergencies or high-risk deliveries (obstetric events).

DESIGN: A national cross-sectional study.

SETTING: All hospital labour wards in Denmark.

PARTICIPANTS: Midwives (n=1303), specialty trainees (n=179) and doctors specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology (n=343) working in hospital labour wards (n=21) in Denmark in 2018.

METHODS: Categories of obstetric events comprised of Apgar score <7/5 min, eclampsia, emergency caesarean sections, severe postpartum haemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord prolapse, vaginal breech deliveries, vaginal twin deliveries and vacuum extraction. Data on number of healthcare professionals were obtained through the Danish maternity wards, the Danish Health Authority and the Danish Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. We calculated the time interval between attending each obstetric event by dividing the number of events occurred with the number of healthcare professionals.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The time interval between attending a specific obstetric event.

RESULTS: The average time between experiencing obstetric events ranged from days to years. Emergency caesarean sections, which occur relatively frequent, were attended on average every other month by midwives, every 9 days for specialty trainees and every 17 days by specialist doctors. On average, rare events like eclampsia were experienced by midwives only every 42 years, every 6 years by specialty trainees and every 11 years by specialist doctors.

CONCLUSIONS: Some obstetric events occur extremely rarely, hindering the ability to obtain and maintain the clinical skills to manage them through clinical practice alone. By assessing the frequency of a healthcare professionals attending an obstetric emergency, our study contributes to assessing the need for supplementary educational initiatives and interventions to learn and maintain clinical skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere050790
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)e050790
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

    Research areas

  • Cross-Sectional Studies, Delivery, Obstetric, Emergencies, Female, Humans, Midwifery, Obstetrics, Pregnancy

ID: 69936082