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Confidential enquiries into hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and University of the Witwatersrand, P.O. Bertsham, 2013 Johannesburg, South Africa. eckhart.buchmann@wits.ac.za


Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) may be regarded as a near miss marker for perinatal death resulting from intrapartum hypoxia. Considering the serious long-term consequences of HIE and issues of blame and liability for clinicians, regional or national audit of HIE might best be done using confidential enquiries. These are conducted by independent multidisciplinary panels, and should identify weaknesses in delivery of health care. A confidential enquiry into HIE may determine intrapartum factors that could have caused the poor outcome. It should also consider the role of associated preconceptual and antepartum factors, which may predispose the fetus to intrapartum damage. The enquiry should also assess avoidable factors and suboptimal care. These may involve patient- and family-related problems, administration-related suboptimal care, and health worker-related suboptimal care. The dissemination of the results of confidential enquiries should result in an improvement in quality of health care, including better allocation of health resources and health worker education.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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