Hong Kong Med J 2003;9:407-14 | Number 6, December 2003
Status of obstetric epidural analgesia services in Hong Kong public hospitals: postal questionnaire survey
BB Lee, PP Chen, WD Ngan
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To examine the status of obstetric epidural analgesia services in Hong Kong public hospitals in 2001, and to compare findings with those from a similar survey conducted in 1995.
DESIGN. Postal questionnaire survey.
SETTING. Hospital Authority hospitals in Hong Kong offering an obstetric and delivery service.
PARTICIPANTS. Chiefs of Service of departments of anaesthesia and coordinators of obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia service.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. The availability of an obstetric epidural analgesia service, specialist staff allocation to the service, existence of clinical protocols, rate of epidural analgesia, techniques of epidural administration, obstetric outcome or mode of delivery, and the incidence of adverse events associated with the use of epidural analgesia.
RESULTS. Between 1 January and 31 December 2001, all eight Hospital Authority hospitals with an obstetric service provided epidural analgesia for labour pain relief, but only six (75%) offered a 24-hour service. A dedicated anaesthetist provided obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia during office hours in all units, but after hours in only three. This level of service provision compared favourably with that available in 1995, when only 82% of public maternity units provided epidural analgesia and only 36% offered a 24-hour service. The median epidural analgesia rate was 15% (range, 8%-20%) compared with 10% in 1995. The incidence of adverse events and complications was very low. Formal written protocols for the conduct of epidural analgesia for labour were used in six units. All units used mixtures of local anaesthetic combined with opioid, administered as intermittent boluses, continuous epidural infusion, or patient-controlled epidural analgesia.
CONCLUSIONS. Although there has been progress and improvement in the provision of obstetric epidural analgesia services in our public hospitals, the rate is still relatively low and the provision of services after hours is limited. Further progress will likely be hindered by current or future cutbacks in public hospital budgets.
Key words: Analgesia, epidural; Analgesia, obstetric; Health care survey; Hong Kong
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