BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Examination of regional care patterns in antenatal corticosteroid use (ACU) rates may be salient for the development of targeted interventions. Our objective was to assess network-level variation using California perinatal care regions as a proxy. We hypothesized that (1) significant variation in ACU exists within and between California perinatal care regions, and (2) lower performing regions exhibit greater NICU-level variability in ACU than higher performing regions.
METHODS: We undertook cross-sectional analysis of 33 610 very low birth weight infants cared for at 120 hospitals in 11 California perinatal care regions from 2005 to 2011. We computed risk-adjusted median ACU rates and interquartile ranges (IQR) for each perinatal care region. The degree of variation was assessed using hierarchical multivariate regression analysis with NICU as a random effect and region as a fixed effect.
RESULTS: From 2005 to 2011, mean ACU rates across California increased from 82% to 87.9%. Regional median (IQR) ACU rates ranged from 68.4% (24.3) to 92.9% (4.8). We found significant variation in ACU rates among regions (P < .0001). Compared with Level IV NICUs, care in a lower level of care was a strongly significant predictor of lower odds of receiving antenatal corticosteroids in a multilevel model (Level III, 0.65 [0.45–0.95]; Level II, 0.39 [0.24–0.64]; P < .001). Regions with lower performance in ACU exhibited greater variability in performance.
CONCLUSIONS: We found significant variation in ACU rates among California perinatal regions. Regional quality improvement approaches may offer a new avenue to spread best practice.
- Accepted November 20, 2014.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics