How this St. Louis hospital cut C-section rates with better communication

SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis has reduced its cesarean section rate to 12 percent, in part due to improved provider communication, according to a case study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

 St. Mary's implemented AHRQ's Teamstepps training program for employees in its obstetrics department in 2007. The program emphasizes communication and teamwork among hospital workers to improve patient care and safety.

For every obstetrics patient at St. Mary's, the charge nurse and chief resident lead interdisciplinary "huddles" to discuss patient progress with nurses, obstetricians, neonatologists and anesthesiologists. Team members decide whether the patient's care needs to be adjusted with input from the bedside nurse and the patient.

The hospital tries to avoid risky C-section deliveries when possible, particularly for first-time mothers. Still, around 75 percent of mothers who first deliver via C-section deliver vaginally in subsequent pregnancies at St. Mary's.

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