Improving quality of perinatal care through clinical audit : a study from a tertiary hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Abstract: Perinatal audit has been tested and proved an important tool for reduction of perinatal mortality and assessment of quality of perinatal care. At Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), a tertiary hospital in Dar es salaam, Tanzania we performed a retrospective cross-sectional study using data from an obstetrics database to classify all perinatal deaths during 1999-2003. We also determined the prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy and its impact on perinatal outcome. Furthermore, we conducted a perinatal audit to study potential determinants and causes of perinatal and neonatal deaths and their avoidability. We also assessed the quality of care of patients admitted with eclampsia using a criteria based audit. Stillbirth, early neonatal and perinatal mortality rates (PMR) were 96, 27 and 124 respectively. A large proportion of foetuses (38%) had no audible foetal heart beat on admission at MNH labour ward and the majority of the neonatal deaths were asphyxiated at delivery. The PMR for multiples and singletons were 269 and 118 respectively resulting in a rate ratio of 2.4 (95%CI: 2.1-2.4). The prevalence of anaemia and severe anaemia was 68% and 5.8%, respectively. Severity of anaemia increased the risk of preterm delivery with ORs of 1.4, 1.4 and 4.1 for women with mild, moderate and severe anaemia as compared to women with normal haemoglobin levels. The corresponding risks for LBW and VLBW were 1.2, 1.7 and 3.8, and 1.5, 1.9 and 4.2 respectively. The prevalence of preterm delivery and LBW was 17% and 14% respectively. The hospital-based incidence of eclampsia was 504 per 10,000 women or 5.1 % of all mothers admitted. Suboptimal care were identified on criteria regarding management plan by senior staff, review of the plans by specialist obstetrician, delay on caesarean section, monitoring patients on magnesium sulphate and inadequate use of the laboratory. Two out of three patients requiring operation were not operated within set standards. Birth asphyxia was the main cause of intrapartum fresh stillbirth (47%) and early neonatal deaths (51%), whereas eclampsia (25%) and preeclampsia (8.3%) were main maternal medical conditions. The majority of stillbirths were fresh, indicating foetal demise during labour or just before delivery. The audit study identified suboptimal care in about 80% of audited cases out of which about 50% were found to be the likely cause of the adverse perinatal outcome. Inadequate maternal and foetal monitoring during labour were the main suboptimal factors, though delay in referral and operative interventions were also prominent. Based on these studies, we conclude that: The perinatal mortality (PMR) in this study was higher than the national average. About one in four perinatal deaths at MNH can be attributed to avoidable factors linked to obstetric care Main causes of perinatal and neonatal deaths were intrapartum birth asphyxia, immaturity related and infections            Management of patients in labour needs to be improved Suboptimal care that is essentially avoidable included: inadequate monitoring of patients during labour, delay of care,    e.g. long decision to surgery interval, and delayed referral of patients fromprimary hospitals The prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy was very high; and low birth weight and preterm delivery was independently associated with severity of anaemia The prevalence of eclampsia at MNH was high and the case management needs to be improved