Today, one in four or five women in Ontario will give birth through a cesarean or "C-section." A new study, led by researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and The Wilson Centre for Research in Education and the Department of Anesthesia, University of Toronto, has found that many labour and delivery health professionals lack a clear understanding of the anesthesiologist's role as a physician with specialized skills in the management of seriously unwell pregnant patients. This role misperception may affect the quality of care delivered to mothers and their babies.
"Anesthesiologists are pivotal in so many areas of the hospital, yet their work and expertise are not well understood, especially in labour and delivery settings," said Dr. Saroo Sharma, Currie Fellow at The Wilson Centre and resident physician at the Department of Anaesthesia, University of Toronto and lead investigator of the study. "This study is the first-of-its-kind that explores specifically how anesthesiologists and their labour and delivery colleagues perceive the anesthesiologist's role, and the potential impact of these perceptions on interprofessional dynamics and team collaboration in labour and delivery."
The study, co-supervised by Dr. Patricia Houston, vice-president of education at St. Michael's Hospital, and Dr. Scott Reeves with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of Michael's Hospital and The Wilson Centre, was recently presented at the first International Conference on Faculty Development in the Health Professions in Toronto at St. Michael's Hospital.
Health providers in the labour and delivery units at two urban teaching hospitals in Toronto were interviewed. Participants (ranging from midwives, nurses and obstetricians, as well as anesthesiologists, all with different levels of experience) were asked a series of in-depth questions to determine their understanding of the anesthesiologist's role during labour and delivery, the anesthesia process, and the type and amount of education and training they had received around anaesthesia management.
On analysis of the data, a number of important themes emerged:
"This study tells us that as health professionals, we have an immense amount of work to do in order to build a culture of true interprofessional teamwork and to provide the necessary training and supports to ensure that we deliver the best possible patient care, " Dr. Sharma added.
Materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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