Hospital C-Section Rates Vary WidelyMain Category: Pregnancy / Obstetrics
Article Date: 06 Mar 2013
The most common surgery in the United States is cesarean delivery (c-section), and it is performed on 1.67 million women every year. Surprisingly, hospital cesarean rates now vary widely across the U.S. according to a new study by the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.
The findings are published in the journal Health Affairs, and reveal that cesarean delivery rates varied tenfold throughout the country - from 7.1 percent to 69.9 percent.
The investigators analyzed hospital discharge data from a sample of 593 hospital patients with at least 100 births in the year 2009.
C-sections are crucial, potentially lifesaving medical procedures. The variance rate of these surgeries is expected because of different patient circumstances and characteristics.
To examine this issue, researchers looked at cesarean rates among a subgroup of patients who were at a lower risk, for example mothers whose pregnancies were not:
Lead author Katy B. Kozhimannil, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. explained:
"We were surprised to find greater variation in hospital cesarean rates among lower-risk women. The variations we uncovered were striking in their magnitude, and were not explained by hospital size, geographic location, or teaching status. The scale of this variation signals potential quality issues that should be quite alarming to women, clinicians, hospitals and policymakers."
Do Policies Need to Change?The most expensive and the most common reason for hospitalization in the U.S. is childbirth. C-sections are more costly than vaginal deliveries and have risen from 20.7 percent in 1996 to 32.8 percent in 2011.
Close to half of all births in the U.S. are paid for by state Medicaid funds. Just in 2009, public insurance programs financed over $3 billion for c-section deliveries.
"Cesarean deliveries save lives, and every woman who needs one should have one. The scope of variation in the use of this procedure, especially among low-risk women, is concerning, as its use also carries known risks compared to vaginal delivery such as higher rates of infection and re-hospitalization, more painful recovery, breastfeeding challenges, and complications in future pregnancies."
The authors outline four other policy changes to reduce these variations:
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald
Copyright: MediLexicon International Ltd
Original article posted on Medical News Today.
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