The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a new Opinion from their Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement encouraging the use of protocols and checklists to help providers implement the Congress’ recommendations and protocols. ACOG has made standardization of care a key goal to address the wide variation in practice within the field in an effort to improve patient safety and overall outcomes. The Opinion states that while variation in care is at times completely appropriate, standardized protocols and checklists have been shown to improve patient safety. The Congress goes on to state that protocols should be developed through an OB-GYN led process that is multidisciplinary, collaborative and includes hospital administration, nurses, patient advocates and other health care professionals.
“The motivation and intent for any protocol or checklist should be to ensure high quality, safe and, when possible, evidence-based practice.” – Clinical Guidelines and Standardization of Practice to Improve Outcomes, Committee Opinion, ACOG
As doulas, one of our main roles is education and providing the families we serve with evidenced-based information to use in their decision making. This most recent publication from ACOG emphasizes just how needed this function is for birthing families. In their news release ACOG states that adoption and implementation of their guidelines “lags behind their publication” in part due to lack of awareness by physicians of those guidelines. The Opinion states, “For 78% of medical practice guidelines, more than 10% of physicians are not aware of their existence.” Informing our clients of ACOG’s guidelines for care and empowering pregnant and postpartum mothers to ask their providers about those guidelines appears to be a valuable service to both patient and care provider alike!
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services maintains a National Guideline Clearinghouse available to the public and searchable by topic. You can find their collection of ACOG’s guidelines here: http://www.guideline.gov/browse/by-organization.aspx?orgid=85
Doulas and the families we serve can also search ACOG’s own site for specific guidelines (i.e. “clinical guidelines VBAC”).