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Home Wellness Research Electronic Fetal Monitoring Intrapartum Fetal Heart Rate Assessment: Monitoring by Auscultation or Electronic Means

Intrapartum Fetal Heart Rate Assessment: Monitoring by Auscultation or Electronic Means

Wednesday, 17 December 2008 13:55

Objective: Our purpose was to assess the frequency with which auscultation could be used as the primary mode of fetal assessment during labor in a busy labor and delivery suite by means of published criteria.

Study Design: During a 3-month period, 862 patients in labor with live fetuses between 24 and 43 weeks of gestation were available for auscultation in the prospective study. Auscultation was initiated during a contraction and extended for 30 seconds after uterine activity ceased. It was repeated every 15 minutes in the first stage and every 5 minutes in the second stage of labor.

Results: In 420 patients this modality was not begun because of inability of the nurses to meet 1:1 staffing requirements. In 19 patients auscultation was not performed because of obesity (12) or patient refusal (7). Of the 423 assessed by auscultation 392 were unable to complete monitoring caused by the frequency requirement (n = 212) or the recording criteria (n = 163). Of the 31 patients where auscultation was successfully completed, there was a 1:1 nurse ratio during the entire labor.

Conclusions: Auscultation with stringent evaluation and recording frequency is not feasible under normal labor and delivery room conditions unless 1:1 nursing care is always available. Author-abstract.

Morrison, J. C. et al. 1993.  American Journal of Obst Gyn 168:63-6.