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Press Releases : 2014 Press Releases

Leading Nursing Journal Publishes Protocols for Managing Obstetric Emergencies

Thursday, December 11, 2014  
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Leading Nursing Journal Publishes Protocols for Managing Obstetric Emergencies

Developing and Practicing Protocols Can Improve Health Outcomes


Washington, DC, December 11, 2014 – Maternal mortality, or the death of a woman during pregnancy, at birth, or soon after birth, has been on the rise in the United States since the 1990s. Data suggest that over 50% of these deaths are preventable. One prevention strategy is the development and implementation of written protocols for obstetric emergency situations.


In “Developing Protocols for Obstetric Emergencies,” Cheryl K. Roth, PhD, WHNP-BC, RNC-OB, RNFA; Sheryl E. Parfitt, MSN, RNC-OB; Sandra L. Herring, MSN, RNC-OB, CPHIMS; and Sarah A. Dent, MSN, RNC-OB, wrote about creating and practicing clear protocols for obstetric emergencies to be used by healthcare providers when responding to a pregnancy health crisis. This article appears in the October/November 2014 issue of Nursing for Women’s Health, the clinical practice journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).


The article details how a multidisciplinary, collaborative team at a large community hospital developed and practiced obstetric emergency protocols. The team started with a protocol for postpartum hemorrhage developed by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) that is comprehensive and available as a checklist, flowchart or table chart. These charts set the standard for the team to create one-page protocols for the hospital to customize and adopt.


Following positive response to the postpartum hemorrhage protocol, the team also developed protocols for common maternal health crises including maternal code, shoulder dystocia, emergency cesarean, and eclamptic seizure. Each protocol has color columns for every stage of the emergency event and is divided into duties for nurses, physicians and laboratory personnel.


“When unexpected crises occur on the OB unit, nurses and other clinicians must act quickly and take appropriate steps to ensure best health outcomes. Use of protocols during mock emergency drills can assist in educating staff on critical steps,” wrote the authors. “In the event these drills become reality, preparation that has occurred through use of these protocols can promote a controlled atmosphere with optimal results for both the women experiencing a health crisis and the health care staff caring for them.”


“The development of detailed protocols to treat obstetric emergencies will help prepare staff with the aim of reducing maternal mortalities,” said AWHONN’s CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. “By practicing the protocols, the responding team will be prepared and ready for common obstetric emergencies.”


For media interviews, contact:

Kelly Mack for AWHONN






About Nursing for Women's Health

Nursing for Women's Health is a bimonthly refereed clinical practice journal of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. The journal circulates to more than 25,000 nurses who care for women and newborns and is available online at



The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the foremost nursing authority that advances the health care of women and newborns through advocacy, research and the creation of high quality, evidence-based standards of care. AWHONN represents the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women's health, obstetric and neonatal nursing nationwide.

AWHONN's 24,000 members worldwide are clinicians, educators and executives who serve as patient care advocates focusing on the needs of women and infants. A leader in professional development, AWHONN holds the distinction of receiving the Premier Program award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for innovation and excellence in Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) three times.

Founded in 1969 as the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the association became a separate nonprofit organization called the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses in 1993.

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Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

AWHONN is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP580. Accredited status does not imply endorsement by AWHONN or the American Nurses Credentialing Center of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with educational activities.

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