Introduction: Obstetrical emergencies are a high-risk yet infrequent occurrence in the emergency department. While U.S. emergency medicine (EM) residency graduates are required to perform 10 low-risk normal spontaneous vaginal deliveries, little is known about how residencies prepare residents to manage obstetrical emergencies. We sought to profile the current obstetrical training curricula through a survey of U.S. training programs.
Methods: We sent a web-based survey covering the four most common obstetrical emergencies (pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), shoulder dystocia, and breech presentation) through email invitations to all program directors (PD) of U.S. EM residency programs. The survey focused on curricular details as well as the comfort level of the PDs in the preparation of their graduating residents to treat obstetrical emergencies and normal vaginal deliveries.
Results: Our survey had a 55% return rate (n=105/191). Of the residencies responding, 75% were in the academic setting, 20.2% community, 65% urban, and 29.8% suburban, and the obstetrical curricula were 2-4 weeks long occurring in post-graduate year one. The most common teaching method was didactics (84.1-98.1%), followed by oral cases for pre-eclampsia (48%) and PPH (37.2%), and homemade simulation for shoulder dystocia (37.5%) and breech delivery (33.3%). The PDs’ comfort about residency graduate skills was highest for normal spontaneous vaginal delivery, pre-eclampsia, and PPH. PDs were not as comfortable about their graduates’ skill in handling shoulder dystocia or breech delivery.
Conclusion: Our survey found that PDs are less comfortable in their graduates’ ability to perform non-routine emergency obstetrical procedures.