Obstetrical Unit Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: OUR Study

Ilina D. Pluym, Rashmi Rao, Jerasimos Ballas, Gladys A. Ramos, Sarah N. Cross, Mya Zapata, Sindhu Srinivas, Judette M. Louis, Erika Werner, Yalda Afshar, Christina S. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe the response of labor and delivery (L&D) units in the United States to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and determine how institutional characteristics and regional disease prevalence affect viral testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey was distributed electronically through the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine e-mail database ( n  = 584 distinct practices) and social media between April 14 and 23, 2020. Participants were recruited through "snowballing." A single representative was asked to respond on behalf of each L&D unit. Data were analyzed using Chi-square and Fisher's exact tests. Multivariable regression was performed to explore characteristics associated with universal testing and PPE usage.

RESULTS: A total of 301 surveys (estimated 51.5% response rate) was analyzed representing 48 states and two territories. Obstetrical units included academic (31%), community teaching (45%) and nonteaching hospitals (24%). Sixteen percent of respondents were from states with high prevalence, defined as higher "deaths per million" rates compared with the national average. Universal laboratory testing for admissions was reported for 40% (119/297) of units. After adjusting for covariates, universal testing was more common in academic institutions (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.73, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.23-2.42) and high prevalence states (aOR = 2.68, 95% CI: 1.37-5.28). When delivering asymptomatic patients, full PPE (including N95 mask) was recommended for vaginal deliveries in 33% and for cesarean delivery in 38% of responding institutions. N95 mask use during asymptomatic vaginal deliveries remained more likely in high prevalence states (aOR = 2.56, 95% CI: 1.29-5.09) and less likely in hospitals with universal testing (aOR = 0.42, 95% CI: 0.24-0.73).

CONCLUSION: Universal laboratory testing for COVID-19 is more common at academic institutions and in states with high disease prevalence. Centers with universal testing were less likely to recommend N95 masks for asymptomatic vaginal deliveries, suggesting that viral testing can play a role in guiding efficient PPE use.

KEY POINTS: · Heterogeneity is seen in institutional recommendations for viral testing and PPE.. · Universal laboratory testing for COVID-19 is more common at academic centers.. · N95 mask use during vaginal deliveries is less likely in places with universal testing..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1301-1309
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
REDCap support was provided by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Grant (CTSI Grant UL1TR001881).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.


  • COVID-19
  • infection prevention
  • labor and delivery
  • pandemic
  • personal protective equipment
  • Delivery, Obstetric/methods
  • Prevalence
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital/organization & administration
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks/statistics & numerical data
  • Pandemics/prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States/epidemiology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Infection Control/instrumentation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/diagnosis
  • Personal Protective Equipment/statistics & numerical data
  • Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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