March 26, 2012

The Financial Savings of Curbing C-Sections

by Levin & Perconti

As reported late last week by Reuters, a new study is suggesting that unnecessary C-section procedures increase medical care by $2 billion every year worldwide. As the Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm have often noted, the problem is particularly potent here in the United States. Estimates suggest that over the last few decades C-section rates have steadily increased. They now roughly account for about 1/3 of all U.S. births—the highest rate of all time.

Of course, perhaps most importantly, unnecessary C-sections create unnecessary risks for patients. Obviously there are situations where C-sections are absolutely essential. In fact, many Illinois birth injury lawsuits arise when medical teams fail to act reasonably to perform a C-section in a timely fashion in response to fetal distress or trauma. However, there are other situations where a C-section is not actually necessary. It should never be forgotten that C-sections are serious abdominal surgeries that come with inherent risks. Many mothers have developed infections or have suffered extreme blood loss as a result of these procedures. In addition, having a C-section can lead to problems in subsequent pregnancies. Placenta abnormalities are common in subsequent births which can lead to severe labor bleeding.

On top of the increased medical risks, unnecessary C-section also comes at a high cost. It is simply much more expensive to have a surgical birth than a vaginal birth. Cost savings are always a hot topic, particularly because tightening personal and public budgets. Spending money unnecessarily on healthcare costs should be avoided.

What is responsible for the rising C-section rates? Various possible explanations have been offered. One innocuous reason may be an increase in multiple births. Twins and other multiple births quite frequently have to be delivered via C-section. The more multiple births, the more C-sections. However, perhaps a more potent reason is that more mothers are requesting the surgical birth in order to avoid labor or have more control over the time of birth. This follows the trend of induced labors of all stripes becoming more common.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers appreciate that there are various different approaches that might be able to lower the C-section rates. For example, many doctors suggest that perhaps the best way to do that is by limiting first C-sections. Because mothers who have one C-section usually have surgical births for all subsequent children, avoiding the first child being born surgically might go a long way to addressing the problem. Meeting that goal, in turn, requires limits of the use of induced labor only to those cases where it is medically necessary.

In addition, many doctors suggest that there should be resurgence in vaginal births after C-section” (VBACs). There remains a stigma and unnecessary fear associated with giving birth vaginally after already having a C-section. However, many doctors explain that there are many women who could successful give birth vaginally. Unfortunately, for staffing reasons many hospitals do not even offer VBACs, essentially limiting the mother’s option and making it harder to actually lower the C-section rate in many locations.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births