Dr. Peter Nielsen, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, received a five-year, $2 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for a collaborative effort to develop a program to train specialists and emergency responders who treat women who experience cardiac arrest during pregnancy.

“There has been an increase in maternal mortality in the U.S., and the No. 1 reason for that is cardio/pulmonary events during pregnancy, and yet there currently are no standard maternal cardiac arrest guidelines,” Nielsen said. “Through this project, we hope to reduce maternal mortality due to cardiovascular disease during pregnancy and the postpartum period through standardized education and training.”

Researchers will work to develop and disseminate the National Pregnancy Resuscitation Program (PRP). The simulation-based training will address current industry training gaps at all levels of maternal care, from first responders to in-hospital emergency medical staff and specialists.

As part of this initiative, two simulation-training packages, accompanied by newly modified physical maternal simulators and other simulation tools, will be created:

  • Out-of-hospital Maternal Cardiac Arrest, OHMCA; for first responders, and In-hospital Maternal Cardiac Arrest
  • In-hospital Maternal Cardiac Arrest, IHMCA; for hospital based nurses and physicians in obstetric, emergency, neonatal and intensive care departments.

The project will be implemented in three phases:

  1. Phase one will focus on the development of a curriculum by using an expert panel to identify evidence-based best practices. Researches will also focus on developing simulators and other tools to be used in conjunction with OHMCA and IHMCA curricula.
  2. Phase two will consist of testing the curriculum and the curriculum tools. Researchers will begin pilot testing, and conduct maternal cardiac arrest training for out-of-hospital first responders and in-hospital providers.
  3. Phase three will focus on the distribution of the new PRP curricula nationwide. Researchers plan to release an instructional video on maternal cardiac arrest for the purpose of credentialing first responders and in-hospital medical staff.

“With a structured and evidence-based simulation training package that can be applied across medical disciplines, care of pregnant women who experience cardiac arrest can be improved,” Nielsen said.

The project will be led by Baylor, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Simulation Center and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  

Other collaborators on the project include Dr. Andrea Shields, associate professor and chief of clinical research for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr. Brook Thomson, associate professor and division director for the Obstetrics Hospitalist Program, both with the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, part of the Christus Health System, is an academic affiliate of Baylor College of Medicine.