Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Background In Tanzania, substandard intrapartum management of foetal distress contributes to a third of perinatal deaths, and the majority are term deliveries. We conducted a criteria-based audit with feedback to determine whether standards of diagnosis and management of foetal distress would be improved in a low-resource setting.

Methods During 2013–2015, a criteria-based audit was performed at the national referral hospital in Dar es Salaam. Case files of deliveries with a diagnosis of foetal distress were identified and audited. Two registered nurses under supervision of a nurse midwife, a specialist obstetrician and a consultant obstetrician, reviewed the case files. Criteria for standard diagnosis and management of foetal distress were developed based on international and national guidelines, and literature reviews, and then, stepwise applied, in an audit cycle. During the baseline audit, substandard care was identified, and recommendations for improvement of care were proposed and implemented. The effect of the implementations was assessed by the differences in percentage of standard diagnosis and management between the baseline and re-audit, using Chi-square test or Fisher’s exact test, when appropriate.

Results In the baseline audit and re-audit, 248 and 251 deliveries with a diagnosis of foetal distress were identified and audited, respectively. The standard of diagnosis increased significantly from 52 to 68 % (p < 0.001). Standards of management improved tenfold from 0.8 to 8.8 % (p < 0.001). Improved foetal heartbeat monitoring using a Fetal Doppler was the major improvement in diagnoses, while change of position of the mother and reduced time interval from decision to perform caesarean section to delivery were the major improvements in management (all p < 0.001). Percentage of cases with substandard diagnosis and management was significantly reduced in both referred public and non-referred private patients (all p ≤ 0.01) but not in non-referred public and referred private patients.

Conclusion The criteria-based audit was able to detect substandard diagnosis and management of foetal distress and improved care using feedback and available resources


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.