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Quantifying severe maternal morbidity in Scotland: a continuous audit since 2003

Marr, Lesliea; Lennox, Christophera; McFadyen, Angus K.b

Current Opinion in Anesthesiology: June 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 275–281
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000079
OBSTETRIC AND GYNECOLOGICAL ANESTHESIA: Edited by Wiebke Gogarten and Dorothee Bremerich

Since 2003, a continuous audit of severe maternal morbidity in Scotland has been conducted, collecting data on consistently defined events in all the consultant-led maternity units within Scotland. This review summarizes the methodology of the audit and describes some of the main results accumulated in the 10 years audited [2003–2012 (The 2012 Scottish Confidential Audit of Severe Maternal Morbidity report is yet to be published. This article refers to extracts from 2012 data where available, but on other occasions refers to data from 2003 to 2011.)]. Although most causes of severe maternal morbidity have decreased during the audit, major obstetric haemorrhage, the most common cause of severe maternal morbidity, has increased. Some key findings are as follows: admission to an ICU is required for 1 woman in every 700 births; major obstetric haemorrhage is experienced by 1 in 172 women; cases of eclampsia have decreased during the audit; there were deficiencies in antenatal risk identification and action planning; and the direct involvement of consultant obstetricians and anaesthetists in the care of women was below those recommended by the guidelines. The audit has demonstrated changes in clinical practice and in adherence to clinical guidelines over time. The information has been used to inform clinical practice within the Scottish maternity units.

aReproductive Health Programme, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland

bAKM-STAT, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Correspondence to Leslie Marr, Reproductive Health Programme Manager, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9EB, Scotland, UK. Tel: +44 131 623 4710; e-mail:; website:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.