Improving postpartum care in a large hospital in New Delhi, India
Despite recent progress, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in India remains high at 174 per 100 000 live births. Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital (BMH) is a secondary level hospital in New Delhi. In 2013, five women died in BMH’s postpartum ward. In January 2014, a United States Agency for International Development-funded team met with BMH staff to help improve their system for providing postpartum care to prevent maternal deaths. The hospital staff formed a quality improvement (QI) team and, between January and December 2014, collected data, conducted root cause analyses to understand why postpartum women were dying and tested and adapted small-scale changes using plan-do-study-act cycles to delivery safer postpartum care. Changes included reorganising the ward to reduce the time it took nurses to assess women and educating women and their relatives about common danger signs. The changes led to an increase in the number of women who were identified with complications from two out of 1667 deliveries (0.12%) between January and May 2014 to 74 out of 3336 deliveries (2.2%) between July and December 2014. There were no deaths on the postpartum ward in 2014 compared with five deaths in 2013 but the reduction was not sustained after the hospital started accepting sick patients from other hospitals in 2015. QI approaches can improve the efficiency of care and contribute to improved outcomes. Additional strategies are required to sustain improvements.