A recent Consumer Reports investigation looked at 1,500 hospitals in 22 states, ranking the hospitals based on c-section rates. Those with low c-section rates were ranked better than those with higher c-section rates. Consumer Reports is consulted by many consumers when buying kitchen appliances, cars, and electronics, but I caution consumers that are using this list to choose where to have their baby or a practice to care for their reproductive health. Here’s why:
- C-section rates alone may or may not reflect quality care. A lower rate may not mean better, nor does a higher rate mean substandard care.
- There is a “too low rate” and a “too high rate,” but these are not defined by Consumer Reports.
- Use caution when judging a practice or a hospital solely on one rate.
There is the perception that doctors schedule c-sections to make it convenient for their schedules, or for other non-medical reasons. This is almost never true. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advocates not to schedule an early delivery (by induction or by c-section) unless justified by medical reasons. ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have issued practice guidelines for the safe prevention of the primary cesarean delivery.
While it may be easy to rank hospitals based on one factor, such as the number of c-sections performed, it is not a good indicator of the quality of care provided.
Raw data based on the number of one procedure performed at a hospital will not help a woman make the best decision about how and where to deliver. When it is time for that bundle of joy to arrive, you and your OB/GYN will discuss and make the right decision for your delivery based on what is the best for your personal health.
Dr. G. Sealy Massingill is the OBG Department Chair at JPS Healthnetwork, the medical director at Midwifery Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth, and an associate professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.