Elective delivery (ED) before 39 weeks, low-risk cesarean delivery, and episiotomy are routinely reported obstetric quality measures and have been the focus of quality improvement initiatives over the past decade.
To estimate trends and differences in obstetric quality measures by race/ethnicity.
We used 2008–2014 linked birth certificate–hospital discharge data from New York City to measure ED before 39 gestational weeks (ED <39), low-risk cesarean, and episiotomy by race/ethnicity. Measures were following the Joint Commission and National Quality Forum specifications. Average annual percent change (AAPC) was estimated using Poisson regression for each measure by race/ethnicity. Risk differences (RD) for non-Hispanic black women, Hispanic women, and Asian women compared with non-Hispanic white women were calculated.
ED<39 decreased among whites [AAPC=−2.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), −3.7 to −1.7), while it increased among blacks (AAPC=1.3; 95% CI, 0.1–2.6) and Hispanics (AAPC=2.4; 95% CI, 1.4–3.4). Low-risk cesarean decreased among whites (AAPC=−2.8; 95% CI, −4.6 to −1.0), and episiotomy decreased among all groups. In 2008, white women had higher risk of most measures, but by 2014 incidence of ED<39 was increased among Hispanics (RD=2/100 deliveries; 95% CI, 2–4) and low-risk cesarean was increased among blacks (RD=3/100; 95% CI, 0.5–6), compared with whites. Incidence of episiotomy was lower among blacks and Hispanics than whites, and higher among Asian women throughout the study period.
Existing measures do not adequately assess health care disparities due to modest risk differences; nonetheless, continued monitoring of trends is warranted to detect possible emergent disparities.