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Online ISSN 1827-1596
Calderini E. 1, Tuveri L. E. 2, Seveso M. 1, Salvo I. 3
1 Ospedale Maggiore Polyclinic Foundation, Mangiagalli and Regina Elena, Milan, Italy;
2 Bolognini General Hospital, Seriate, Bergamo, Italy;
3 V. Buzzi Children’s Hospital, Milan, Italy
Background. Since January 2005 the Regional Government of Lombardia, a large Italian region with over 1/5 of all Italian births, allocated public funds for 3 consecutive years to help provide epidural analgesia (EA) for women in labor. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the trend of diffusion of EA in the triennium 2005-2007.
Methods. Data obtained from regional Obstetric Departments, recognized by the National Health Care System, were elaborated by the Epidemiological Service of Regione Lombardia. The software looked for specific codes for vaginal deliveries, with or without EA, and Cesarean sections included in the administrative patient records.
Results. A substantial increase in epidurals administered in comparison to total vaginal deliveries was recorded after assignment of regional financing: from 8.2% in 2005, to 10.4% in 2006 and 12.9% in 2007 (P<0.0001). More than 60% of epidurals were performed in 8 hospitals with >2 000 births per year. The rate of EAs in these hospitals was 18% in 2005, 22% in 2006 and 24.9% in 2007. In the 69 hospitals with <2000 births per year, the rate of EAs was markedly lower: 4% in 2005, 5.5% in 2006 and 7.8% in 2007. In both cases, the increase was statistically significant (P<0.0001). At the three-year time-point, the rate of Cesarean sections did not change.
Conclusion. The continuous increase of EA for labor after regional financings suggests that the low rate of pain relief procedures in Lombardia was mainly due to economic and organizational issues, rather than to cultural and psychological factors.