Laboratory tests at the maternity unit of Gordonia Hospital

Bok, Milly Mavis
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BACKGROUND: Maternal health services have been an area of focus all over the world due to its impact on the mothers and newborn infant. The millennium development goals 4 and 5 have been formulated to focus on maternal health services. The Department of Health in South Africa aligned to the above targets, has outlined essential elements of maternal care in various levels of health facilities. In this regard, district hospitals play an important role in delivery of maternal health care. Gordonia Hospital, a district hospital situated in the Northern Cape Province offers maternal health services in a remote area of South Africa. This study will focus on the utilization and costs of laboratory test in this hospital. AIM: To describe the laboratory tests undertaken in the Maternity unit of Gordonia Hospital during the study period and to use this information to support maternal health services provided. METHODOLOGY: A cross-sectional study design was used to review routinely collected data from Gordonia Hospital Maternity Unit and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for one month period (September 2009). No primary data collection was done. The setting of this study was the maternity unit at the above district hospital, in the Northern Cape Province. MS Excel based tools were used to analyze the collected information about variables linked to the specific objectives of this study. RESULTS: Laboratory tests from the maternity unit of the hospital are mostly requested for mothers presented with hypertensive disorders of pregnancies, especially pre-eclampsia, and for babies with neonatal jaundice. Laboratory costs for the unit are around 5% of the total hospital laboratory costs and test turn-around times as well as recording of test results in patient files are in place. CONCLUSION: This is the first study done in the Northern Cape Province to systematically study the laboratory services. The researcher hopes that the Provincial Department of health will use the report from this study to improve maternal health services in the Province.