Obstetric Provider Maldistribution: Georgia, USA, 2011
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- Spelke, B., Zertuche, A.D. & Rochat, R. Matern Child Health J (2016) 20: 1333. doi:10.1007/s10995-016-1999-8
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Objectives In 2010, Georgia had the nation’s highest maternal mortality rate, sixteenth highest infant mortality rate, and a waning obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) workforce. Statewide ob/gyn workforce data, however, masked obstetric-specific care shortages and regional variation in obstetric services. The Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group thereby assessed each Georgia region’s obstetric provider workforce to identify service-deficient areas. Methods We identified 63 birthing facilities in the 82 Primary Care Service Areas (PCSAs) outside metropolitan Atlanta and interviewed nurse managers and others to assess the age, sex, and expected departure year of each delivering professional. Using accepted annual delivery rates of 155 per obstetrician (OB), 100 per certified nurse midwife (CNM), and 70 per family medicine physician (FP) we converted obstetric providers into “OB equivalents” to standardize obstetric services available in any given area. Using facility births and computed OB equivalents (contemporary and 2020 estimates), we calculated current and projected average annual births per provider (AABP) for each PCSA, categorizing its obstetric provider workforce as “adequate” (AABP < 144), “at risk” (144 ≤ AABP ≤ 166), or “deficient” (AABP > 166). We mapped results using ArcGIS. Results Of 82 surveyed PCSAs, 52 % (43) were deficient in obstetric care; 16 % (13) had a shortage and 37 % (30) lacked obstetric providers entirely. There were no delivering FPs in 89 % (73) of PCSAs and no CNMs in 70 % (56). If Georgia fails to recruit delivering providers, 72 % (58/77) of PCSAs will have deficient or no obstetric care by 2020. Conclusions Obstetric provider shortages in Georgia hinder access to prenatal and delivery services. Care-deficient areas will expand if recruitment and retention of delivering professionals does not improve.