Background Lengths of hospital stay (LoS) after childbirth that are too long have a number of health, social and economic drawbacks. For this reason, in several high-income countries LoS has been reduced over the past decades and early discharge (ED) is increasingly applied to low-risk mothers and newborns. Methods We conducted a population-based study investigating LoS after chilbirth across all 12 maternity centres of Friuli Venezia-Giulia (FVG), North-Eastern Italy, using a database capturing all registered births in the region from 2005 to 2015 (11 years). Adjusting for clinical factors (clinical conditions of the mother and the newborn), socio-demographic bakground and obstetric history with multivariable logistic regression, we ranked facility centres for LoS that were longer than our proposed ED benchmarks (defined as >2 days for spontaneous vaginal deliveries and >3 days for instrumental vaginal deliveries). The reference was hospital A, a national excellence centre for maternal and child health. Results The total number of births examined in our database was 109,550, of which 109,257 occurred in hospitals. During these 11 years, the number of births significantly diminished over time, and the pooled mean LoS for spontaneous vaginal deliveries in the whole FVG was 2.9 days. There was a significantly decreasing trend in the proportion of women remaining admitted more than the respective ED cutoffs for both delivery modes. The percentage of women staying longer that the ED benchmarks varied extensively by facility centre, ranging from 32% to 97% for spontaneous vaginal deliveries and 15% to 64% for instrumental vaginal deliveries. All hospitals but G were by far more likely to surpass the ED cutoff for spontaneous deliveries. As compared with hospital A, the most significant adjusted ORs for LoS overcoming the ED thresholds for spontaneous vaginal deliveries were: 89.38 (78.49–101.78); 26.47 (22.35–31.36); 10.42 (9.49–11.44); 10.30 (9.45–11.21) and 8.40 (7.68–9.19) for centres B, D, I, K and E respectively. By contrast the OR was 0.77 (95%CI: 0.72–0.83) for centre G. Similar mitigated patterns were observed also for instrumental vaginal deliveiries. Conclusions For spontaneous vaginal deliveries the mean LoS in the whole FVG was shorter than 3.4 days, the average figure most recently reported for the whole of Italy, but higher than other countries’ with health systems similar to Italy’s. Since our results are controlled for the effect of all other factors, the between-hospital variability we found is likely attributable to the health care provider itself. It can be argued that some maternity centres of FVG may have had ecocomic interest in longer LoS after childbirth, although fear of medico-legal backlashes, internal organizational malfunctions of hospitals and scarce attention of ward staff on performance efficiency shall not be ruled out. It would be therefore important to ensure higher level of coordination between the various maternity services of FVG, which should follow standardized protocols to pursue efficiency of care and allow comparability of health outcomes and costs among them. Improving the performance of FVG and Italian hospitals requires investment in primary care services.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)