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Characteristics of US Rural Hospitals by Obstetric Service Availability, 2017

Publication Date: July 20th, 2020
Publication Type(s): Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
Topic(s): , , ,
Author(s): Kozhimannil KB, Interrante JD, Tuttle MS, Henning-Smith C, Admon L

Objectives. To describe characteristics of rural hospitals in the United States by whether they provide labor and delivery (obstetric) care for pregnant patients.

Methods. We used the 2017 American Hospital Association Annual Survey to identify rural hospitals and describe their characteristics based on the lack or provision of obstetric services.

Results. Among the 2019 rural hospitals in the United States, 51% (n = 1032) of rural hospitals did not provide obstetric care. These hospitals were more often located in rural noncore counties (counties with no town of more than 10 000 residents). Rural hospitals without obstetrics also had lower average daily censuses, were more likely to be government owned or for profit compared with nonprofit ownership, and were more likely to not have an emergency department compared with hospitals providing obstetric care (P for all comparisons < .001).

Conclusions. Rural US hospitals that do not provide obstetric care are located in more sparsely populated rural locations and are smaller than hospitals providing obstetric care.

Public Health Implications. Understanding the characteristics of rural hospitals by lack or provision of obstetric services is important to clinical and policy efforts to ensure safe maternity care for rural residents. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 16, 2020: e1–e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305695)

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