Severe maternal morbidity has become an important quality indicator of obstetric care and maternal welfare in developed countries over the last decade. Historically, maternal mortality was used as a measure of quality of care in maternity services, but fortunately, it is now very low in high-resourced countries and is not sufficient to be used alone as a quality indicator.
The term maternal morbidity encompasses the range of chronic and acute conditions which may result in obstetric complications during labour, delivery and the puerperium. However, there is an absence of international consensus on definitions of severe maternal morbidity, which impedes comparative analysis between similarly resourced countries.
In collaboration with the multidisciplinary specialist NPEC Maternal Morbidity Group, the NPEC has collected and analysed anonymised maternal morbidity data from Irish maternity units since 2011. The NPEC also conducts detailed assessments of pertinent morbidities and morbidity-related topics such as critical care in obstetrics and major obstetric haemorrhage. The purpose of the audit is to provide baseline evidence for reflective practice and action planning by public maternity health care providers, public health professionals and policy makers in Ireland.
The NPEC employs the Severe Maternal Morbidity Notification Form to collect its data. It can be completed electronically through the NPEC online database (https://npecdb.ucc.ie/MMD).