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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


FAWCUS, S. Alerts for managing postpartum haemorrhage. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2018, vol.108, n.12, pp.1013-1017. ISSN 2078-5135.

A review of maternal deaths from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in 2014 - 2016 raises concern at the slow rate of reduction of mortality. Folder review showed that 87.8% of deaths were avoidable and identified 'red flags': common omissions (poor problem recognition), commissions (incorrect treatment) and areas of substandard care (inadequate monitoring and/or management). The lessons learnt have led to key practice points for managing PPH, which are presented in this article. These include: referral to an appropriate level of care for delivery, medications for prevention of PPH, and how facilities can be prepared for PPH to detect it timeously - before the onset of coagulopathy. Emergency management of severe obstetric haemorrhage includes resuscitation, identifying the cause/s of the bleeding, medical treatment of PPH, non-medical interventions for PPH in the labour ward, early recourse to theatre with ongoing bleeding and a description of effective surgical interventions. The problems associated with referral of patients with PPH are discussed. Updated management algorithms for PPH in South Africa are presented.

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