Preventable medical error is an epidemic and these errors are responsible for over 400,000 deaths a year and millions of injuries annually. In order to help ensure a safe pregnancy, labor and delivery, it is very important to choose a hospital that has protocols in place to help ensure the health of each mother and baby. Equally important is choosing an obstetrician and medical team that has skill and experience.
Tips and Sample Questions to Help You Prepare for Delivery
It’s critical to choose the right OB/GYN and hospital when planning how you’ll be delivering your baby. For this reason, if it’s possible for you, you can interview your OB/GYN and tour your hospital prior to delivery. Even if you have been seeing your OB/GYN for a long time, you can still ask him or her any questions regarding their medical experience at any time. Here are a few questions you can ask when interviewing your OB/GYN and asking questions on your hospital tour.
Note: It is always the physician’s’ responsibility to provide you with proper medical care and address your health concerns. If you feel like your health concerns aren’t being properly addressed, it’s possible to switch care providers. You can request your medical records are transferred to the new provider.
Interviewing Your OB/GYN
- How many years have you been practicing obstetrics? Is this including residency or is this post-residency?
- Where did you receive your medical degree? Where did you receive any other degrees?
- What year did you graduate residency?
- Do you manage high-risk pregnancies?
- What training and education have you had to manage high-risk pregnancies?
- How often do you perform cesarean deliveries?
- What training did you receive in performing cesarean deliveries? Where was this training? How many cesarean deliveries have you performed?
- What hospital(s) do you deliver at?
- Do you have a particular specialty for which you are known?
- Will my baby have continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring? (Continuous heart rate monitoring will help the medical team be aware of any distress the baby is experiencing.)
- Are you skilled in fetal heart rate tracing interpretation, and how many years of experience do you have?
- Is there at least one other person involved in my labor and delivery that is skilled at fetal heart rate interpretation?
- If my baby shows signs of distress or impending distress, do you have the ability to deliver her very quickly by emergency C-section?
- How many years of experience do you have in performing emergency C-sections?
- Is there an additional physician immediately available in the event that multiple dangerous conditions occur simultaneously, such as my baby and I having difficulty at the same time?
- Is there proper resuscitation equipment (and a team if necessary) immediately available in case my baby needs to be resuscitated and/or intubated at birth?
Research Note: The hospital’s website will usually offer details about its doctor’s backgrounds and experience. Websites like healthgrades.com and vitals.com show ratings and reviews of doctors and are good resources for discovering more about what your doctor might be known for in your community.
Touring Your Delivery Hospital
- Does the facility serve high-risk pregnancies?*
- How many beds does the hospital’s labor and delivery unit hold?
- What level NICU does the hospital have?
- What level Emergency facilities does the hospital have?
- What is the staffing ratio on the labor and delivery floor?
- How many deliveries does Labor and Delivery do each month?
- How does Labor and Delivery manage medical emergencies?
- Does the hospital have patient advocates on staff?
- Does the hospital have anaesthesiologists on site at all times?
- Will the baby be permitted to stay in the room with you the whole time?
- How many visitors are allowed in the delivery room? In the postpartum room?
- Are cameras, video cameras, or cell phones allowed in the delivery room?
- Does the hospital offer breastfeeding education and assistance?
- Will you be permitted to bring your own music, aromatherapy, or self-comforts into the delivery room with you?
- How many other patients will your nurse have on his or her service during your labor and delivery?
- How many other patients will your doctor have on his or her service during your labor and delivery?
- Is the facility a teaching hospital? Will residents be assisting with your labor and delivery?
Research Note: Many of the facts about the hospital’s capacity and the level of its different units might be available on the hospital’s website. The website may also offer information about whether the hospital is a teaching hospital and how its staffing works on the labor and delivery floor.
*Often, community hospitals are not equipped to handle high-risk pregnancies or neonatal emergencies on site. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s Obstetric Care Consensus for Levels of Maternal Care, high-risk patients are recommended to be referred to higher-level centers with the personnel and resources on site necessary to address their more complex care needs. Learn more about high-risk pregnancy here.
These questions are suggestions that may help the patient feel more comfortable, educated, and empowered during delivery. There is also no limit on the questions that a patient can ask when preparing for childbirth. However, patients are also not obligated to ask any of these questions of their providers.