Nevin Manimala Statistics

Inpatient midwifery staffing levels and postpartum readmissions: a retrospective multicentre longitudinal study

BMJ Open. 2024 Apr 3;14(4):e077710. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-077710.


BACKGROUND: Preventing readmission to hospital after giving birth is a key priority, as rates have been rising along with associated costs. There are many contributing factors to readmission, and some are thought to be preventable. Nurse and midwife understaffing has been linked to deficits in care quality. This study explores the relationship between staffing levels and readmission rates in maternity settings.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective longitudinal study using routinely collected individual patient data in three maternity services in England from 2015 to 2020. Data on admissions, discharges and case-mix were extracted from hospital administration systems. Staffing and workload were calculated in Hours Per Patient day per shift in the first two 12-hour shifts of the index (birth) admission. Postpartum readmissions and staffing exposures for all birthing admissions were entered into a hierarchical multivariable logistic regression model to estimate the odds of readmission when staffing was below the mean level for the maternity service.

RESULTS: 64 250 maternal admissions resulted in birth and 2903 mothers were readmitted within 30 days of discharge (4.5%). Absolute levels of staffing ranged between 2.3 and 4.1 individuals per midwife in the three services. Below average midwifery staffing was associated with higher rates of postpartum readmissions within 7 days of discharge (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.108, 95% CI 1.003 to 1.223). The effect was smaller and not statistically significant for readmissions within 30 days of discharge (aOR 1.080, 95% CI 0.994 to 1.174). Below average maternity assistant staffing was associated with lower rates of postpartum readmissions (7 days, aOR 0.957, 95% CI 0.867 to 1.057; 30 days aOR 0.965, 95% CI 0.887 to 1.049, both not statistically significant).

CONCLUSION: We found evidence that lower than expected midwifery staffing levels is associated with more postpartum readmissions. The nature of the relationship requires further investigation including examining potential mediating factors and reasons for readmission in maternity populations.

PMID:38569681 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2023-077710

By Nevin Manimala

Portfolio Website for Nevin Manimala