Uptake and utilization of practice guidelines in hospitals in the United States: The case of routine episiotomy

Katy B. Kozhimannil, Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Cori J. Blauer-Peterson, Neel T. Shah, Jonathan M. Snowden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: The gap between publishing and implementing guidelines differs based on practice setting, including hospital geography and teaching status. On March 31, 2006, a Practice Bulletin published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended against the routine use of episiotomy and urged clinicians to make judicious decisions to restrict the use of the procedure. Objective: This study investigated changes in trends of episiotomy use before and after the ACOG Practice Guideline was issued in 2006, focusing on differences by hospital geographic location (rural/urban) and teaching status. Methods: In a retrospective analysis of discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) - a 20% sample of US hospitals - 5,779,781 hospital-based births from 2002 to 2011 (weighted N = 28,067,939) were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression analysis to measure odds of episiotomy and trends in episiotomy use in vaginal deliveries. Results: The overall episiotomy rate decreased from 20.3% in 2002 to 9.4% in 2011. Across all settings, a comparatively larger decline in episiotomy rates preceded the issuance of the ACOG Practice Guideline (34.0% decline), rather than following it (23.9% decline). The episiotomy rate discrepancies between rural, urban teaching, and urban nonteaching hospitals remained steady prior to the guideline's release; however, differences between urban nonteaching and urban teaching hospitals narrowed between 2007 and 2011 after the guideline was issued. Conclusion: Teaching status was a strong predictor of odds of episiotomy, with urban nonteaching hospitals having the highest rates of noncompliance with evidence-based practice. Issuance of clinical guidelines precipitated a narrowing of this discrepancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


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