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Birth complications 'twice as common' in some hospitals

From BBC - November 8, 2017

Women are twice as likely to suffer serious blood loss and severe tears during childbirth in some hospitals, according to an audit of maternity services in Great Britain.

Third and fourth-degree tears occurred in one in 30 vaginal births but in some units in 2015-16 it was one in 15.

The report showed that while most women had a safe birth, there were some variations in care.

It covers 149 out of 155 NHS trusts and boards in England, Scotland and Wales.

The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit's report is based on the electronic records of nearly 700,000 births.

It found that haemorrhage during childbirth, a major cause of illness in women who have given birth, occurred in about one in 40 women, but in some maternity units the rate was as high as one in 20.

Call for investigation

The number of women affected by third and fourth-degree tears, also known as obstetric anal sphincter injuries - a serious complication of vaginal birth which increases the risk of incontinence - also varied widely from hospital to hospital.

At the Royal Sussex County Hospital, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, 6.5% of women were affected, compared with 0.6% at Dr Gray's Hospital, NHS Grampian.

The report said this could be due to differences in the risk profile of women being seen in units, awareness of the problem among doctors and how well they reported it.

Overall, the proportion of women who suffered serious tears in England, Scotland and Wales when having a vaginal birth was about 3.5%.

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