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Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Nov;80(5):731-7.

Obstetric care and cesarean birth rates: a program to monitor quality of care.

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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II.



To study the quality of obstetric care in relation to rising cesarean rates, a Task Force was formed in New York state by the Department of Health and ACOG District II. The Task Force also included the Organization of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nurses and the Hospital Association of New York State. The goals were to enhance hospitals' in-house review processes, standardize terminology, and improve the quality of care. A premise of the program was that if quality of care improved, cesarean rates would fall.


A Dictionary of Terms was developed to standardize clinical and diagnostic terminology. A two-tiered review process was instituted, using internal and external hospital reviews. A format for in-house review of obstetric care was developed and recommended to hospitals. External reviews were conducted at 24 hospitals during 1989-1990. Review teams, composed of obstetrician-gynecologists and obstetric nurses in active obstetric practice, assessed obstetric facilities, staffing, medical care, and the in-house review process. Contacts continued with the hospitals after site visits to follow up on implementation of recommendations. General recommendations to improve care, based on the overall program experience, were distributed to hospitals and physicians as part of educational efforts to improve quality of care.


The state cesarean rate reversed. Statistics for 1989 and 1990 showed a stronger downward trend in reviewed hospitals than in non-reviewed hospitals. A survey of reviewed hospitals reported a positive response to the review process.


A successful quality assurance program can be jointly developed by a state regulatory agency and a medical specialty society.

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