Blood Pressure Measurement in Pregnancy: A survey of methods used in teaching hospitals in South Australia


Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5000


Summary: A voluntary, anonymous 10-point multiple choice questionnaire was used to assess variability in methods used to measure blood pressure in pregnancy in 5 South Australian teaching hospitals. Medical and midwifery staff working in maternity units attached to teaching hospitals in South Australia were asked to complete a survey of their current practice related to the measurement of blood pressure in pregnant women; 213 replies were received from 440 surveyed (48% response rate). There was a lack of standardization of practice for: positioning of the patient, use of the 4th or 5th Korotkoff sound for diastolic blood pressure, cuff selection, rounding of the measurement, selection of the left or right arm, and period of premeasurement resting. Systematic errors averaging 10–15 mmHg can be expected in measurement of blood pressure in pregnancy due to failure of standardization of method. There is a need for standardization of method which is not being met by present methods of staff training in teaching hospitals.