Thematic analysis of obstetric anesthesia cases from the AANA foundation closed claims database

Academic Article


  • Maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States continues to be high. Understanding parturient complications and causes of death is critical to determine corrective actions. Analysis of closed malpractice claims evaluates patient care, identifies preventable morbidity and mortality, and offers recommendations for improvement. A review of obstetric anesthesia malpractice claims filed against nurse anesthetists (N = 21), extracted from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation Closed Claims database, was completed. The malpractice claims included 18 maternal claims and 3 neonatal claims. The most common adverse maternal outcomes were maternal death (8/18) and nerve injury (4/18). Hemorrhage accounted for the greatest number of maternal deaths (3/8) followed by cardiovascular failure, emboli, and neuraxial opioid overdose. All neonatal claims (3/3) involved hypoxic encephalopathy resulting in 1 neonatal death and 2 cases of neonatal permanent brain injury. The majority of maternal cases were identified as nonemergent (15/18) and involved relatively healthy patients (15 identified as ASA physical status 2). Qualitative analysis of closed claims provides the opportunity to identify patterns of injuries, precipitating events, and interventions to improve care. Themes related to poor outcomes in this study include care delays, failed communication, incomplete documentation, maternal hemorrhage, and lack of provider vigilance.
  • Published In

  • Aana Journal  Journal
  • Author List

  • Clayton BA; Geisz-Everson MA; Wilbanks B
  • Start Page

  • 464
  • End Page

  • 470
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 6