GAO report emphasizes quality of care not LOS

A mother’s length of stay is not as important as the type of care she receives postpartum, either in the hospital or at home, suggests a General Accounting Office document. The report, Maternity Care: Appropriate Followup Services Critical with Short Hospital Stays, was published in September 1996 and contains results from discussions with staff at eight hospitals and 13 health plans with well-established early discharge programs.

The report also points out that the Chicago-based American Academy of Pediatrics and the Washington, DC-based American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued recommendations about who should be discharged early.1,2 The groups’ criteria include "the absence of medical complications, completion of at least two successful feedings, performance of certain laboratory tests, and a documented ability of the mother to care for the baby." More details are given in an appendix at the end of the report.

One copy of the GAO report (GAO/HEHS-96-207) is free (additional copies are $2) by contacting the U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015. Telephone: (202) 512-6000. Fax: (301) 258-4066. World Wide Web:


1. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetrics. Guidelines for Perinatal Care; 1992.

2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Hospital stay for healthy term newborns. Pediatrics 1995; 96(4): Supplement.