Obstetric triage improvement process using the Donabedian model of quality care: a quality improvement initiative

Sumaira Naz, Shamila Saleem, Zaheena Shamsul Islam, Shelina Bhamani, Lumaan Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Obstetric triage has become one of the most crucial innovations in the field of perinatal care in the past 15 years. In lower- middle- income countries (LMICs), the pregnant patients are seen in a conventional way based on the time of their arrival; this divergent, unbalanced and inequitable approach results in delayed initial evaluation, prolonged length of stay (LOS) and affected clinical outcomes.This project aimed at implementing an effective and efficient obstetric triage system with improved throughput and care processes within six months to facilitate timely decision making according to the individualized needs of pregnant patients.A pre-implementation audit was completed for the core evaluation of existing obstetric triage services, followed by a fishbone analysis. Following the Donabedian model for quality care, a quality improvement project was initiated to redesign the obstetric triage system. The project strategy was implemented as part of six PDSA (Plan- Do -Study- Act) cycles to optimize the structure, processes, and obstetric triage outcomes. The triage paradigm moved from time-based care delivery to priority care, and processes were improved based on Angelini's recommendations of best practices in obstetric triage. During the initial phase of improvement, the identified outcome measures were waiting time of 5 minutes from arrival to initial assessment, LOS of 120 minutes, and acuity-based care for at least 50% of patients. A post-implementation audit was conducted to assess improvements. The results showed that the LOS at triage reduced from 240 min (4 hours) to 60 min (1 hour) within 6 months. Furthermore, wait times for triage decreased significantly to 5 min in 65% of patients, compared with 6% in traditional triage practice.The results indicate that the traditional triage model of the 'order of arrival' process is inefficient in providing adequate obstetric care. This quality initiative facilitated the successful incorporation of the Donabedian model and best practice triage practices and helped achieve desired outcomes of improved LOS and reduced waiting time with acuity-based care. Therefore, the design of an efficient,and the appropriate obstetric triage system can be adopted by other healthcare institutions in a local setting that can facilitate patient centric care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • Angelini obstetric triage best practices
  • Length of stay
  • The Donabedian model
  • Triage Acuity Tool: Fishbone Analysis: PDSA cycles


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