Program aims to make maternity ward even safer

The Managing Obstetrical Risk Efficiently program (MORE OB) is a Canadian program that is being rolled out in hospitals across the country.

Family doctors, maternity nurses, midwives and obstetricians at Cranbrook’s hospital are coming together to participate in a program that aims to create a culture of safety in maternity wards.

The Managing Obstetrical Risk Efficiently program (MORE OB) is a Canadian program that is being rolled out in hospitals across the country.

Interior Health joined up with the program, and last year obstetrics professionals at East Kootenay Regional Hospital began meeting to go through the three-year program.

The group, made up of all of the family doctors, midwives, obstetricians and maternity nurses who work out of the hospital’s maternity ward – about 35 people – has started the second module of the program in the past month.

“Really, it’s aimed at patient safety,” said Dr. Ilona Hale, a Kimberley family physician who is one of the program’s core team. “That’s the ultimate goal – to make our unit better and safer than it already is.

“It’s always been a really good, safe place to have babies, but with this program, the goal is to make it even better.”

Dr. Hale said the program gives the obstetrics staff a way to sit down together to go over regular professional upgrading that they each used to do individually.

“The idea with this is that we do the learning all together,” she said. “We sit down in a room and we go through the material and we talk about it together. Everybody is on the same page and you don’t have one person basing their practice on one set of studies and somebody else basing them on another set of studies.”

The material that they study covers pregnancy, labour and delivery and any complications that can arise.

Last year, the group met for several all-day workshops, and a series of monthly “pizza nights” where they discussed the material and how to implement it in Cranbrook.

“It’s taking the information, bringing it very close to home, and sitting down as a group and talking about each one of these issues rather than each of us sitting at home and reading about a topic,” said Dr. Hale.

During the second year of the program, the team will focus on improving communication and the culture of safety on the maternity ward.

“If we communicate better amongst ourselves, the idea is that this changes the culture so it becomes the norm in our unit that we get rid of some of that hierarchy that can sometimes stop people from saying what they think, and get us working better as a team.”

That means the different obstetrics staff have started meeting after each delivery, together with the patients and family, to go over the experience.

“Many of us did this before, but it’s being encouraged for us all to do it, all of the time, and involve the patient in that discussion so they leave with a bunch of unanswered questions,” said Dr. Hale.

“If we all sit down as a team, including the family, we think that communication between providers and families can improve care and hopefully improve satisfaction for women for their birth experience.”

It’s hoped that, as well as improving patient safety, the MORE OB program will help patient satisfaction and, importantly, staff satisfaction so that fewer family doctors will give up the obstetrics side of their practice.

There are two family doctors in Kimberley who deliver babies, and around eight in Cranbrook, Dr. Hale estimated.

“This is a real problem these days. We’re dwindling.”

Although statistics specific to East Kootenay Regional are not yet available, in general hospitals where the MORE OB program has been implemented have seen positive effects on patient safety.

Infant mortality has been reduced by 18 per cent. The number of infants on ventilators has been reduced by 31 per cent. Admissions to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were reduced by 11 per cent.