Measuring Childbirth Outcomes Using Administrative and Birth Certificate Data

Published in: Anesthesiology, Volume 131, Issue 2, pages 238–253 (August 2019). doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000002759

by Laurent G. Glance, Steve Hasley, Christopher Glantz, Timothy P. Stevens, Eric Faden, Melissa A. Kreso, Sonia G. Pyne, Richard Wissler, Jennifer Fichter, Marjorie S. Gloff, et al.

Read More

Access further information on this document at Anesthesiology

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.


The number of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal complications continues to rise in the United States, and the quality of obstetrical care across U.S. hospitals is uneven. Providing hospitals with performance feedback may help reduce the rates of severe complications in mothers and their newborns. The aim of this study was to develop a risk-adjusted composite measure of severe maternal morbidity and severe newborn morbidity based on administrative and birth certificate data.


This study was conducted using linked administrative data and birth certificate data from California. Hierarchical logistic regression prediction models for severe maternal morbidity and severe newborn morbidity were developed using 2011 data and validated using 2012 data. The composite metric was calculated using the geometric mean of the risk-standardized rates of severe maternal morbidity and severe newborn morbidity.


The study was based on 883,121 obstetric deliveries in 2011 and 2012. The rates of severe maternal morbidity and severe newborn morbidity were 1.53% and 3.67%, respectively. Both the severe maternal morbidity model and the severe newborn models exhibited acceptable levels of discrimination and calibration. Hospital risk-adjusted rates of severe maternal morbidity were poorly correlated with hospital rates of severe newborn morbidity (intraclass correlation coefficient, 0.016). Hospital rankings based on the composite measure exhibited moderate levels of agreement with hospital rankings based either on the maternal measure or the newborn measure (? statistic 0.49 and 0.60, respectively.) However, 10% of hospitals classified as average using the composite measure had below-average maternal outcomes, and 20% of hospitals classified as average using the composite measure had below-average newborn outcomes.


Maternal and newborn outcomes should be jointly reported because hospital rates of maternal morbidity and newborn morbidity are poorly correlated. This can be done using a childbirth composite measure alongside separate measures of maternal and newborn outcomes.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.