Parent Central reported this week on one hospital’s effort to cut down on C-section births. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have written frequently on this blog about the rising concerns among some in the medical community with the increasing use of surgical births. Of course C-section births are something essential, particularly where there happens to be some complications during birth. However, the need at times for these procedures does not mean that they are always necessary. In fact, C-sections come with increased risk of certain birth injuries. That is why it is important that the rates be cut, at least when it comes to elective or optional surgical births.
The hospital profiled in this story worked hard to cut the rate, knowing that the issue was a difficult one. On one hand expectant mothers appreciate the availability of options in front of them. However, C-sections come with increased risks and a cost that is almost twice as high as that for regular vaginal births. Weighing the costs (health and financial), the hospital set a target of reducing the rate of surgical births from its current 30% rate to 25%. The hospital performs about 3,000 births a year, so reducing the level by 5% amounted to performing about 150 fewer C-sections each year.
To meet that goal the hospital considered a range of proposals. Those efforts included tightening policies for inducing childbirth for those past due and better educating patients about the benefits of vaginal births-even after having a previous C-section. After implementing the efforts the hospital reported that C-section rate was down the 5%, to their target of 25% overall. In one month the rate was down to 22%. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys know that this is a positive step which seems to involve the proper balancing of the best interests of the mother and child.
With just this one modest effort in one hospital, at least $70,000 was saved. When those benefits are multiplied in other areas, it is easy to see that significant funds can be saved while actually making patients safer and limiting preventable birth injuries.
Many advocates also believe that midwives might play an important role in getting the overall C-section rate down. Of course midwives play a growing role in natural childbirth. C-section rates among midwives are consistently lower than others. However, clients of midwives are highly motivated for natural birth, which likely skews the results. In general, midwives have C-section rates closer to 15% (as opposed to national rates which are nearing 40%). The World Health Organization actually recommends that the rate be around 15%. Of course, from a legal perspective midwives are held to the same standard of care of reasonableness which medical professionals are held. Deviation from that standard of care-if injury results-is often the basis for legal recovery. Having access to the legal system in all of these situations is critical, because the lifetime of costs from preventable birth injuries is often significant. When mistakes are made which leads to the harm, it is only logical for the one who caused the harm to play in role in ensuring the victim has access to the resources needed to recovery as much as possible.
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