Call to Action Addresses Safety in Labor and Delivery

Transforming Communication and Safety Culture in Intrapartum Care: A Multi-Organization Blueprint Lyndon, Audrey; Johnson, M. Christina; Bingham, Debra; Napolitano, Peter G.; Joseph, Gerald; Maxfield, David G.; O’Keeffe, Daniel F.

Published jointly by ACOG, ACNM, AWHONN, and SMFM:

Obstetrics & Gynecology. 125(5): 1049-1055, May 2015

Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 60(3), 237-243, May/June 2015

Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nurses, 44(3), 341-349, May/June 2015

Abstract: Effective, patient-centered communication facilitates interception and correction of potentially harmful conditions and errors. All team members, including women, their families, physicians, midwives, nurses, and support staff, have a role in identifying the potential for harm during labor and birth. However, the results of collaborative research studies conducted by organizations that represent professionals who care for women during labor and birth indicate that health care providers may frequently witness, but may not always report, problems with safety or clinical performance. Some of these health care providers felt resigned to the continuation of such problems and fearful of retribution if they tried to address them. Speaking up to address safety and quality concerns is a dynamic social process. Every team member must feel empowered to speak up about concerns without fear of put-downs, retribution, or receiving poor-quality care. Patient safety requires mutual accountability: individuals, teams, health care facilities, and professional associations have a shared responsibility for creating and sustaining environments of mutual respect and engaging in highly reliable perinatal care. Defects in human factors, communication, and leadership have been the leading contributors to sentinel events in perinatal care for more than a decade. Organizational commitment and executive leadership are essential to creating an environment that proactively supports safety and quality. The problem is well-known; the time for action is now.