A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Low Risk Deliveries: A Comparison of Midwives, Family Physicians and Obstetricians
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the cost-effectiveness of in-hospital obstetrical care by obstetricians (OBs), family physicians (FPs) and midwives (MWs) for delivery of low-risk obstetrical patients. METHODS: Cost-effectiveness analysis from the Ministry of Health perspective using a retrospective cohort study. The time horizon was from hospital admission of a low-risk pregnant patient to the discharge of the mother and infant. Costing data included human resource, intervention and hospital case-mix costs. Interventions measured were induction or augmentation of labour with oxytocin, epidural use, forceps or vacuum delivery and caesarean section. The outcome measured was avoidance of transfer to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Model results were tested using various types of sensitivity analyses. FINDINGS: The mean maternal age by provider groups was 29.7 for OBs, 29.8 for FPs and 31.2 for MWs - a statistically higher mean for the MW group. The MW deliveries had lower costs and better outcomes than FPs and OBs. FPs also dominated OB.s The differences in cost per delivery were small, but slightly lower in MW ($5,102) and FP ($5,116) than in OB ($5,188). Avoidance of transfer to an NICU was highest for MW at 94.0% (95% CI: 91.0-97.0), compared with 90.2% for FP (95% CI: 88.2-92.2) and 89.6% for OB (95% CI: 88.6-90.6). The cost-effectiveness of the MW group is diminished by increases in compensation, and the cost-effectiveness of the FP group is sensitive to changes in intervention rates and costs. CONCLUSIONS: The MW strategy was the most cost-effective in this hospital setting. Given data limitations to further examine patient characteristics between groups, the overall conservative findings of this study support investments and better integration for MWs in the current system.
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