Is there unwarranted variation in obstetric practice in Australia? Obstetric intervention trends in Queensland hospitals

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Fox, Haylee
Callander, Emily
Lindsay, Daniel
Topp, Stephanie M
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ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to report on the rates of obstetric interventions within each hospital jurisdiction in the state of Queensland, Australia.MethodsThis project used a whole-of-population linked dataset that included the health and cost data of all mothers who gave birth in Queensland, Australia, between 2012 and 2015 (n=186789), plus their babies (n=189909). Adjusted and unadjusted rates of obstetric interventions and non-instrumental vaginal delivery were reported within each hospital jurisdiction in Queensland.ResultsHigh rates of obstetric intervention exist in both the private and public sectors, with higher rates demonstrated in the private than public sector. Within the public sector, there is substantial variation in rates of intervention between hospital and health service jurisdictions after adjusting for confounding variables that influence the need for obstetric intervention.ConclusionsDue to the high rates of obstetric interventions statewide, a deeper understanding is needed of what factors may be driving these high rates at the health service level, with a focus on the clinical necessity of the provision of Caesarean sections.What is known about the topic?Variation in clinical practice exists in many health disciplines, including obstetric care. Variation in obstetric practice exists between subpopulation groups and between states and territories in Australia.What does this paper add?What we know from this microlevel analysis of obstetric intervention provision within the Australian population is that the provision of obstetric intervention varies substantially between public sector hospital and health services and that this variation is not wholly attributable to clinical or demographic factors of mothers.What are the implications for practitioners?Individual health service providers need to examine the factors that may be driving high rates of Caesarean sections within their institution, with a focus on the clinical necessity of Caesarean section.

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Australian Health Review

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Fox, H; Callander, E; Lindsay, D; Topp, SM, Is there unwarranted variation in obstetric practice in Australia? Obstetric intervention trends in Queensland hospitals, Australian Health Review, 2021