Monday, May 12, 2014

Consumer Reports: Cesarean Births

“How you deliver your baby should be determined by the safest delivery method, not which hospital you choose.” 

I couldn't agree more with this statement. Consumer Reports is beginning to tackle the issue of our disproportionate cesarean rate. The World Health Organization has determined that NO region, area or country should have a higher rate than 15% rate. Currently the US has a rate twice that and California's is even higher. The rate is "up 500 percent since 1970. All those C-sections have not translated into substantially better outcomes for mothers and babies. The infant death rate in the U.S. is higher than that of most other industrialized nations. And the maternal death rate actually increased slightly from 1990 to 2013, according to an analysis published May 2, 2014, online in The Lancet medical journal."

So What? 
Why should we be concerned? C-sections are safe right? Usually when they are done it is because they are safer for mom, baby or both, than a vaginal delivery right?
"A C-section—the second most commonly performed surgical procedure in the country, requiring a 6-inch incision in the abdomen and a second through the uterus—is major surgery, and thus takes longer to recover from than a vaginal delivery and also carries additional risks." 

Consumer Reports is also concerned that hospitals within a few miles of each other with similar populations can have such drastically different rates of surgical births. "And unfortunately, it’s usually much easier to find a hospital with a high C-section rate than a low one." 

Our Local Hospitals
To earn top marks a hospital had to have a c-section rate of between 5-9.5%. None of our local hospitals earned this ranking. Twin Cities comes in at the next best level between 9.5 and 11.5%. French is in the average zone at 11.5-15%. Both Marian and Sierra show up in the next to lowest ranking with between 15-21%.

Hey That's Not Fair 
You may be thinking Sierra Vista should have a higher rate because they have the high risk mothers. Consumer Reports tried to correct for this. "To level the playing field, the measure controls for some things that affect C-section rates, such as not including multiple gestations and breech births. However, this measure does not account for all differences in patient characteristics (such as chronic illness) that might affect the C-section rates of an individual hospital." So yes their rate should be higher because the high risk moms with chronic illness appropriately deliver there. The question is how much higher? Both Sierra and Marian are just a few percentage points away from being given the worst rating.

“We think it’s time those hidden numbers are brought to light,” said John Santa, M.D., medical director of Consumer Reports Health. 

Well said! Pregnant consumers and their families deserve this information in order to make true informed choices about their births.

Quotes were taken from the following 3 articles by Consumer Reports.

What Hospitals Don't Want You to Know About C-Sections:
Very good in-depth article with an excellent section on things to do to avoid a surgical birth.

Hospital Ratings; Avoiding C-sections: 
Their statistics

Safety Scores:
Finding your hospital's score.

More Research and Reading

What to Reject When You are Expecting
Good list of prenatal and during labor procedures to avoid

My Birth Statistics
Comparing my stats with our local hospitals

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