Maternity wards must log problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am


Private hospitals will for the first time be required to regularly review all maternal cases involving deaths or severe complications under a requirement being hammered out by the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The specialist training body is reviewing its accreditation guidelines for the city's eight public and 10 private obstetrics units, as requested by the government.

Health officials and doctors have become concerned about an influx of mainland mothers, which is putting severe stress on the health care system. The government earlier said it would keep a closer watch on hospitals with high incidences of maternal complications.

Dr Cheung Kai-bun, chairman of a college committee for the review, said he believed that under-reporting of maternal complications was common at private hospitals. Some have reported a 'near zero' wound infection rate, which Cheung said was almost impossible.

The figures are not publicly available but when they are 'more accurate, we can then consider releasing them to the public', he said.

He said the new guidelines would require obstetric units to hold regular meetings to review cases involving deaths and severe complications.

'The obstetrics units also have to hold regular cross-discipline meetings on cases where newborns require intensive care. We don't know the results of maternal cases because there is no documentation of the baby's condition. In the future, all this information will be documented,' Cheung said.

Such meetings have been conducted regularly at public hospitals, but private hospitals have their own policies on clinical audits.

Obstetric units that want to receive the college's accreditation will have to comply with the guidelines and submit annual reports on key figures, including maternal deaths and complications.

The college will present the guidelines to the Food and Health Bureau, which will later this month announce a cap on mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong.

The college is also concerned about women choosing to have early Caesarean sections.

The head of the college's quality assurance committee, Dr Ares Leung Kwok-ling, said all hospitals would soon have to stipulate rules for such operations.

'A Caesarean section at too early a stage of pregnancy is not a preferred practice. It will soon become a thing of the past,' Leung said.