LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The number of cesarean deliveries remains very high in the U.S. and Consumer Reports says many of them are unnecessary. It has analyzed data from more than 1,500 hospitals in the 22 states where data is available and found several where more than half the women who expect a low-risk delivery undergo a C-section.
Locally, Baptist Health Louisville, Baptist Health La Grange and Norton Hospital all got Consumer Reports second lowest rating for high numbers of unnecessary C-Sections. University of Louisville Hospital and Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown got the same low scores.
For low-risk deliveries, Consumer Reports found that C-section rates ranged from less than five percent to more than 50 percent. Low-risk deliveries are defined as: women who haven't had a C-section before, don't deliver prematurely, and are pregnant with a single baby who is properly positioned.
Gary Mans, spokesperson for the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center said in a statement:
"As a tertiary referral center, the University of Louisville Hospital (ULH) cares for mothers with low-risk pregnancies and for those whose pregnancies are complicated by many of the high-risk conditions the article concurs increase the risk of cesarean section: maternal or fetal heart conditions, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, obesity and other chronic diseases. While we do not know the complete methodology used by Consumer Reports to compile its article, they do acknowledge they did not take these high-risk conditions into account when generating the cesarean section rates. ULH has guidelines in place to ensure only medically indicated cesarean sections are performed."
Norton Health also questioned Consumer Reports methodology. Here is the statement from Norton:
"The data published by Consumer Reports does not adjust for deliveries where the mother and/or the baby may have medical risk factors that make a C-section the best medical decision. This lack of risk adjustment is especially likely to affect the reported C-section rates of hospitals that handle high-risk pregnancies like Norton Hospital and Suburban Hospital. We encourage patients to get the full story on quality care at Norton Healthcare by visiting our web site, nortonhealthcare.org/qualityreport. Norton Healthcare believes in transparency and has been a national leader in making our quality data available to improve patient care. We have been providing this information publicly since 2005."
Meanwhile, Baptist Health Director of Nursing, Pam Kayrouz said her hospital is working to reduce the number of unnecessary C-Sections.
"Baptist Health Louisville and its medical staff has embraced the initiative to reduce early elective induction of labor and scheduling of C-sections less than 39 weeks gestation unless medically indicated. The Labor and Delivery nursing staff are currently focusing on the effects of maternal repositioning during the labor process and its impact on reducing C-section for failure to progress and failure to descend. Repositioning has been known to facilitate natural rotation and decent of the baby which can minimize the need for some C-sections."
Jennifer Schecter of Consumer Reports acknowledged the data the ratings are based on do not include information on factors that may increase the risk for a C-section, such as heart problems in the mother or fetus, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or any other chronic disease.
However, research has shown that even when you correct for those factors there are still large disparities in rates," Schecter said.
There are situations when a C-section is the safest option. But the vast majority of women who anticipate a low-risk delivery should expect to have a natural birth. Unnecessary C-sections drive up medical costs and increase risks for mothers and babies.
Consumer Reports says ask the person who will deliver your baby about the hospital's C-section rates. In general the lower the rate the better. Definitely look for rates lower than the national average, which for low-risk deliveries is close to 18 percent.
You can find Consumer Reports' advice for avoiding unnecessary C-sections here.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' web site. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.
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