Research Obstetrics| Volume 213, ISSUE 4, P523.e1-523.e8, October 2015

Variation in childbirth services in California: a cross-sectional survey of childbirth hospitals

Published:August 11, 2015DOI:


      The objective of the study was to describe the resources and activities associated with childbirth services.

      Study Design

      We adapted models for assessing the quality of healthcare to generate a conceptual framework hypothesizing that childbirth hospital resources and activities contributed to maternal and neonatal outcomes. We used this framework to guide development of a survey, which we administered by telephone to hospital labor and delivery nurse managers in California. We describe the findings by hospital type (ie, integrated delivery system [IDS], teaching, and other [community] hospitals).


      Of 248 nonmilitary childbirth hospitals in California, 239 (96%)responded; 187 community, 27 teaching, and 25 IDS hospitals reported. The context of services varied across hospital types, with community hospitals more likely to have for-profit ownership, be in a rural or isolated location, and have fewer annual deliveries per hospital. Results included the findings of the following: (1) 24 hour anesthesia availability in 50% of community vs 100% of IDS and teaching hospitals (P < .001); (2) 24 hour in-house labor and delivery physician coverage in 5% of community vs 100% of IDS and 48% of teaching hospitals (P < .001); (3) 24 hour blood bank availability in 88% of community vs 96% of IDS and 100% of teaching hospitals (P = .092); (4) adult subspecialty intensive care unit availability in 33% of community vs 36% of IDS and 82% of teaching hospitals (P < .001); (5) ability to perform emergency cesarean delivery in 30 minutes 100% of the time in 56% of community vs 100% of IDS and 85% of teaching hospitals (P < .001); (6) pediatric care available both day and night in 54% of community vs 63% of IDS vs 76% of teaching hospitals (P = .087); and (7) no neonatal intensive care unit in 44% of community vs 12% of IDS and 4% of teaching hospitals (P < .001).


      Childbirth services varied widely across California hospitals. Cognizance of this variation and linkage of these data to childbirth outcomes should assist in the identification of key resources and activities that optimize the hospital environment for pregnant women and set the groundwork for identifying criteria for the provision of maternal risk-appropriate care.

      Key words

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