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August 2016

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Dr Oliver Daly checks on mum Kimberley Mills with her baby Oliver Biberhofer.

Procedure pilot treats new mums

A more efficient, less painful process for assessing the bladder function of women after they have given birth has been successfully trialled at Western Health.

Up to 15 per cent of women may have problems emptying their bladder after they give birth.

If the condition is not identified and treated it can lead to other long-term problems – such as recurrent urinary infections and the need to use catheters to empty the bladder.

Hospital midwives have traditionally used catheters to assess a patient’s bladder function and measure any residual amount of urine.

But the procedure is time-consuming, often painful for the patient and increases the risk of infection.

These difficulties prompted a multidisciplinary team of Sunshine Hospital midwives, physiotherapists and obstetricians to conduct a pilot program to improve the post-birth bladder care of new mothers and make it easier for midwives to monitor patients’ functions.

The research team was led by Oliver Daly, a consultant obstetrician and urogynaecologist.

They created a new, standardised model of care, which involved midwives using ultrasound to screen and assess the bladder function of post-birth patients.

The team received a grant from the Continence Foundation of Australia to buy two ultrasound bladder scanners to implement the trial.

The number of patients assessed for problems has improved markedly under the new program, according to findings from the trial.

More than 90 per cent of post-birth patients had their bladder function monitored and assessed, compared with less than 50 per cent of patients assessed under the previous approach.

‘By standardising the assessment of bladder function, including the use of ultrasound to measure post-void residual volumes of urine, we’re making it easier for midwives to provide the best care,’ Dr Daly said.

‘It’s a much more efficient way of dealing with the problem of bladder dysfunction.’