Keeping Moms and Babies Safe at Community Memorial Health System

GUEST POST by Dr. David Crownover

On Friday June 27, the Ventura County Star/USA Today published a story titled, “Hospitals Know How to Protect Mothers.  They Just Aren’t Doing It.”

The article reported that every year, thousands of women nationwide are injured or die in childbirth because hospitals and medical workers skipped safety practices and basic tasks to ensure safety.  The article said that from 1990 to 2015, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births was rising in the United States while falling or staying flat in most developed nations.  California was credited as an exception and a leader in safety.

Community Memorial Health System wants you to know what we’re doing to keep moms and babies safe, and send them home healthy!

We want you to know what Community Memorial Health System (CMHS) is doing to be a leader in safety as well.  We know what needs to be done and we are doing it.

We are continually adding more safety measures to ensure that women who deliver babies at CMH are safe while they are with us and go home healthy.  Ojai Valley Community Hospital does not have an obstetrics department so babies are not scheduled for delivery there.

The Ventura County Star/USA Today article chalked up California’s success to the fact that at least as far back as 2010, researchers began offering toolkits of childbirth safety practices to reduce preventable deaths and injuries.  These toolkits were based on years of studies and included policies, procedures, and checklists that enhanced safety.

CMHS is successfully implementing and using these toolkits.  In 2010, CMHS joined the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, an organization committed to ending preventable deaths, injuries, and racial disparities in California maternity care.  CMQCC uses research, quality improvement toolkits, and outreach efforts to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants.  The CMQCC was founded in 2006 at Stanford University School of Medicine with the State of California in response to rising death rates.  Since CMQCC’s inception, California’s maternal mortality rate declined by 55 percent between 2006 to 2013, while the national rate has gone up.

The toolkits focus on readiness, recognition and prevention, response, and reporting/systems learning.  One leading cause of death for new moms is hemorrhaging, and the first toolkit CMHS implemented 100 percent was the “Post-Partum Hemorrhage Toolkit.”  Additionally, CMHS is using a new and innovative, FDA-appoved technology called the Triton Blood Loss Measuring Device.   This helps to quantify blood loss instead of estimating it the way some hospitals do.

In 2014, CMHS began implementing the “Timely Treatment for Severe Range Blood Pressure” toolkit, since high blood pressure is another leading childbirth killer.  We will also be implementing a toolkit for the prevention of cesarean sections.

CMHS is doing a lot of other things too.  We are constantly educating our staff at the Centers for Family Health and the emergency rooms at CMH and Ojai Valley Community Hospital.  This ongoing education helps to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest safety protocols and treatments for pregnant women with high blood pressure.

At CMH, staff teams meet to discuss patient cases, share best practices, review any unexpected problems that arose, and review what could have been done to improve if possible.  “Safety Huddles” occur at the beginning of each shift to review patient needs so everyone in the department is aware of any high-risk women at the beginning of every shift.  We also conduct drills using a simulator doll to run various scenarios and practice how to respond in case of hemorrhages or seizures, for example.  CMHS also maintains a working inter-disciplinary team called the “Highly Reliable Team – Perinatal” that advances implementation of the safety toolkits.

Finally, we are grateful that a major insurance company has acknowledged our commitment to safety.  Earlier this year, Blue Shield of California recognized CMH with a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.  Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated hospitals that show expertise in delivering improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures and rigorous standards that were developed with the medical community’s input.

Community Memorial Health System’s end goal is healthy moms and healthy babies, and we are proud of the care we are delivering!

David Crownover, M.D., is a Centers for Family Health Physician and Chairman of the OB/GYN Department at Community Memorial Health System.