Optimal workload and staffing for obstetric anesthesia services have yet to be determined. We surveyed Society of Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) Centers of Excellence (COE) for Obstetric Anesthesia Care institutions to evaluate procedure-based obstetric anesthesia workload and facility use.
After institutional review board (IRB) exemption, an online survey instrument (REDCap) was sent by email (1 initial and 2 reminders) to all SOAP COEs. Survey data included the number of deliveries, cesarean delivery rate, neuraxial labor analgesia rate, the number of labor and operating rooms, and the number of in-house and backup obstetric anesthesia providers. Obstetric anesthesia activity was estimated using a time-based workload ratio per provider (Stanford Work Index, 1.0 = clinically working every minute of every hour on duty) during weekday, weeknight, and weekend shifts. We compared workload between academic and nonacademic centers and correlated operating and labor rooms with cesarean and vaginal delivery volume.
Fifty-one of 53 surveys were returned (96% response rate). Data from 33 academic and 14 nonacademic US institutions were analyzed. For academic centers, median Stanford Work Index for all staff (included trainees and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) was 0.20 (weekday) and 0.19 (weeknight and weekends); nonacademic centers were 0.33 (weekday, P < .001 versus academic), 0.23 (weeknight, P = .009 versus academic), and 0.23 (weekends, P = .03 versus academic practices). Attending-only Stanford Work Indices were similar between academic and nonacademic centers. Total number of rooms on the obstetric suite (operating, labor, or triage room) was strongly correlated with delivery volume (R2 = 0.55).
The results outline staffing procedure-based workload ratios and facility utilization at SOAP COEs in the United States. These data can be used by other institutions that provide obstetric anesthesia services to guide their obstetric anesthesia staffing. The importance of considering the workload associated with different shifts and between academic and nonacademic centers is also highlighted. The results show that approximately one-third of an obstetric anesthesiologist’s workload is spent on performing procedures. We did not, however, measure the other tasks anesthesiologists practice as peripartum physicians (eg, managing critically ill parturients, doing pre- and postprocedural evaluations, or performing emergent and unexpected procedures), and future studies are required to determine the time required to perform these tasks. Studies to determine the optimal staffing models to handle workload fluctuations and improve outcomes are also required.