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MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 1999 May-Jun;24(3):122-31; quiz 132.

Strategies for developing an evidence-based approach to perinatal care.

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  • 1St. John's Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Today more than ever perinatal care providers must work together to develop practice patterns that will contribute to the best possible outcomes for women and newborns. Financial and human resource allocation are under intense scrutiny in most hospitals. Although the fundamental goals of health care institutions are to maximize health while conserving resources, unfortunately, these goals are often in conflict. Perinatal practice must be based on the combined weight of all available evidence rather than "the way we've always done it." Health care institutions that continue doing business as usual are not likely to survive. Using both clinical and financial data, routine perinatal practices without a scientific basis that establish a contribution to improved outcomes can be reevaluated, while practices that have been shown to be beneficial can be enhanced and supported. The first step in developing a standards and evidence-based approach to perinatal care is the establishment of a practice committee in which communication is open and direct and there exists a respect for the contributions of members from all related disciplines. True collaboration and communication between physicians and nurses is the foundation for establishing and implementing best practices. Fortunately, a growing body of research regarding the pros and cons of various perinatal practices is beginning to emerge; this research can be used by knowledgeable, informed perinatal professionals to advocate for a clinically appropriate approach to fiscal prudence. Commitment to practice based on standards and evidence is an ongoing process and may require substantial changes and more professional energy than the usual methods of implementing and evaluating changes in patient care routines. However, the initial investment in time to collaborate and become oriented to this process is worth the effort.

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