Length of stay following cesarean sections: A population based study in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region (North-Eastern Italy), 2005-2015

Luca Cegolon, Giuseppe Mastrangelo, Oona M. Campbell, Manuela Giangreco, Salvatore Alberico, Lorenzo Montasta, Luca Ronfani, Fabio Barbone

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Background Births by cesarean section (CS) usually require longer recovery time, and as a result women remain hospitalized longer following CS than vaginal delivery (VD). A number of strategies have been proposed to reduce avoidable health care costs associated with childbirth. Among these, the containment of length of hospital stay (LoS) has been identified as an important quality indicator of obstetric care and performance efficiency of maternity centres. Since improvement of obstetric care at hospital level needs quantitative evidence, we compared the maternity services of an Italian region on LoS post CS. Methods We conducted a population-based study in Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), a region of NorthEastern Italy, collecting data from all its 12 maternity centres (coded from A to K) during 2005–2015. We fitted a multivariable logistic regression using LoS as a binary outcome, higher/lower than the international early discharge (ED) cutoffs for CS (4 days), controlling for hospitals as well as several factors related to the clinical conditions of the mothers and the newborn, the obstetric history and socio-demographic background. Results were expressed as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence interval (95%CI). Population attributable risks (PARs) were also calculated as proportional variation of LoS>ED for each hospital in the ideal scenario of having the same performance as centre J (the reference) during calendar year 2015. Results were expressed as PAR with 95%CI. Differences in mean LoS were also investigated with a multivariable linear regression model including the same explanatory factors of the above multiple logistic regression. Results were expressed as adjusted regression coefficients (aRC) with 95%CI. Results Although decreasing over the years (5.0 ± 1.7 days in 2005 vs. 4.4 ± 1.7 days in 2015), the pooled mean LoS in the whole FVG during these 11 years was still 4.7 ± 1.7 days, higher than respective international ED benchmark. The significant decreasing trend of LoS>ED over time in FVG (aOR = 0.89; 95%CI: 0.88; 0.90) was marginal as compared to the variability of LoS>ED observed among the various maternity services. Regardless it was expressed as aRC or aOR, LoS after CS was lowest in hospital C, highest in hospital D and intermediate in centres I, K, G, F, A, H, E, B and J (in descending order). The aOR of LoS being longer than ED ranged from 1.63 (95%CI:1.46; 1.81) in hospital B up to 32.09 (95%CI: 25.68; 40.10) in facility D. When hospitals were ranked by PAR the same pattern was found, even if restricting the analysis to low risk pregnancies. Conclusions Although significantly decreasing over time, the mean LoS in FVG during 2005–2015 was 4.7 days, higher than the international threshold recommended for CS. There was substantial variability in LoS by facility centre, suggesting that internal organizational processes of single hospitals should be improved by enforcing standardized guidelines and using audits, economic incentives and penalties if need be.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0210753
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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