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Hospital Data Reporting on Postpartum Hemorrhage: Under-Estimates Recurrence and Over-Estimates the Contribution of Uterine Atony

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Abstract

This study aimed to explore whether recording of a prior adverse pregnancy outcome (postpartum hemorrhage) in a medical record increases the likelihood that recurrence of the same event is reported in hospital data. Using a sample of 588 pregnancies [2 consecutive pregnancies for 294 randomly selected women with at least one postpartum hemorrhage (PPH)], we compared ‘coded’ recurrence rates in hospital data with those obtained from medical record audit. ‘Coded’ recurrence in a second pregnancy was also compared for women with or without a documented history of prior PPH. We found a ‘coded’ recurrence rate of 18.5% and an ‘audited’ recurrence rate of 28.4%. The ‘coded’ rate of recurrence among women who had a documented history of PPH was 27.4% compared to 19.1% when the previous PPH was not noted in the second pregnancy medical record. Medical record reporting of uterine atony as the cause for postpartum hemorrhages in first and second births was 37.9 and 34.0% while ‘coded’ hospital data reporting attributed 79.8 and 73.9% respectively to atony. Our study results indicate that a history of postpartum hemorrhage may be a stronger risk factor for subsequent PPH than previously demonstrated. A recorded history of PPH was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting a subsequent PPH, and in such cases recurrence rates approximate true recurrence. The contribution of uterine atony as a cause of postpartum hemorrhage is over-estimated using hospital data.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (512162). Jane Ford is supported by NHMRC grant 512162 and Christine Roberts is supported by a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship. We thank the NSW Department of Health for access to the hospital and birth data and the NSW Centre for Health Record for linking the datasets required to select the study sample.

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Correspondence to Jane B. Ford.

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Ford, J.B., Algert, C.S., Kok, C. et al. Hospital Data Reporting on Postpartum Hemorrhage: Under-Estimates Recurrence and Over-Estimates the Contribution of Uterine Atony. Matern Child Health J 16, 1542–1548 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-011-0919-1

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