Outcomes of high-risk obstetric transfers in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory: The High-Risk Obstetric Transfer Study

Amy Goh, Kathryn Browning Carmo, Jonathan Morris, Andrew Berry, Margaret Wall, Mohamed Abdel-Latif
Australian & New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 2015, 55 (5): 434-9

BACKGROUND: In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, in utero transfers to manage maternal or neonatal risks are highly challenging owing to geography and centralisation of tertiary perinatal care.

AIMS: The study aims to document the outcomes of high-risk obstetric transfers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective observational study was conducted from 2010 to 2011 documenting urgent requests for obstetric transfers to tertiary centres across NSW/ACT for pregnancies 20 weeks' gestation or greater. Outcomes of transfers were allocated apriori to 'delivered at the receiving hospital', 'failed/delayed transfer' or 'discharged/transferred undelivered'. Our hypothesis is that each outcome has a specific group of associated clinical factors.

RESULTS: Of the 249 transfer requests included in the study, 40% delivered at the receiving hospital, 7% were failed/delayed transfers, and 45% were discharged/transferred undelivered. Cases delivering at the receiving hospital were significantly associated with older mothers, twin pregnancies, pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) or premature rupture of membranes (PROM) with/without threatened preterm labour (TPL) as the indications for transfer and having three indications for transfer. Cases that were discharged/transferred undelivered were significantly associated with singleton pregnancies, TPL and/or antepartum haemorrhage (APH) as the indication for transfer and having one indication for transfer. There were no significantly associated factors for failed/delayed transfers.

CONCLUSIONS: The study confirms the hypothesis that particular transfer outcomes are associated with different factors. The findings also show that less than half of urgent obstetric transfers result in delivery at the receiving hospital, suggesting that there exists significant opportunities for further research into predicting preterm delivery, thereby improving the care of women with high-risk pregnancies.

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