Background: The inappropriate use or interpretation of intrapartum fetal surveillance (IFS) continues to be a major contributor to adverse obstetric outcomes, suggesting that training in IFS is deficient. What professional education in intrapartum fetal sureveillance currently exists in Victorian public hospitals is unknown.
Aims: To map the current formal IFS education and competency assessment practices in Victorian public hospitals.
Methods: A structured survey comprising 25 questions was developed and mailed to both a senior obstetric and a midwifery manager in all public maternity hospitals in Victoria. Non-respondents were followed up at 2 months.
Results: One hundred and twenty surveys were sent to 60 hospitals, of which 103 replies from 58 hospitals were received, representing a 97% hospital response rate. Only 19 (33%) of respondent hospitals had an existing education program. Hospitals with > 2000 births per annum were more likely to have a program than those with < 1000 births per annum (86% vs 23%, P = 0.004). Of the 19 existing education programs, only nine contained any fetal physiology. All respondents thought that IFS education should be compulsory for relevant staff. Only six (10%) of the hospitals had any assessment of competency but 90% of respondents thought that such an assessment should be compulsory.
Conclusions: These data reveal important deficiencies in the provision and quality of current IFS education practices in Victoria, particularly in smaller and rural hospitals. However, these deficiencies seem to reflect a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of interest.