Air medical retrieval of central Australian women in labor: A retrospective observational study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Air Medical Journal

PubMed ID





School of Nursing and Midwifery




Honan, B., Spring, B., Gardiner, F. W., Durup, C., Venkatesh, A., McInnes, J., . . . Johnson, R. (2024). Air medical retrieval of central Australian women in labor: A retrospective observational study. Air Medical Journal, 43(1), 28-33.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics and outcomes of remote-dwelling pregnant women with threatened labor referred for air medical retrieval to a regional birthing center as well as factors associated with birth within 48 hours. Methods: This was a retrospective observational study of all pregnant women in the remote Central Australian region referred to the Medical Retrieval Consultation and Coordination Centre for labor > 23 weeks’ gestation between February 12, 2018, and February 12, 2020. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were performed. Results: There were 116 women referred for retrieval for labor. There were no births during transport, and less than half of the cases resulted in birth within 48 hours of retrieval. Tocolysis was frequently used. Predictors of birth within 48 hours were cervical dilatation ≥ 5 cm, preterm gestational age, and ruptured membranes in the univariate analysis. Nearly one third of this cohort required intervention or had complications during birth. Conclusion: Birth during transport for threatened labor did not occur in this cohort, and more than half of the retrievals did not result in birth within 48 hours; however, the high risk of birth complications may offset any benefit of avoiding air medical transport from remote regions. Retrieval clinicians should consider urgent transfer in cases of ruptured membranes, cervical dilatation of 5 cm or more, or gestational age less than 37 weeks.



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