Objective: To describe characteristics and outcomes of women birthing within GP-obstetrician (rural generalist) supported rural (level 3) obstetric units in Queensland. Design: Retrospective descriptive study. Setting: 21 GP-obstetrician supported birthing units in Queensland. Participants: Women (n = 3111) birthing from January 2017 to December 2017. Main outcome measures: Patient, pregnancy and labour characteristics and key maternal and neonatal outcomes routinely recorded in the Queensland Perinatal Data Collection and Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection were compared to Queensland public hospital aggregate data. Results: Women birthing in rural maternity units were significantly more likely to be Aboriginal or Torrs Strait Islander (16% v 9%), < 20 years old (7% v 4%), term deliveries (96% v 91%), achieve spontaneous onset of labour (67% v 51%), and birth (71% v 60%) (p<0.001) compared with all Queensland public hospitals. They were significantly less likely to be nulliparous (36% v 40%), use pharmacological analgesia (65% v 69%), or have continuous electronic fetal monitoring in labour (54% v 66%) (p<0.001). Neonatal outcomes were comparable; with no significant difference in stillbirth rate between rural units and all Queensland public hospitals (4.8 v 7.3 per 1000 births). Precipitate delivery was the most common labour complication (36% v 33%) (p<0.001). Conclusion: GP-obstetrician (rural generalist) supported rural birthing units in Queensland provide important access for low and medium risk women to deliver locally, with strong indicators of quality and safety.
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