Doctors at For-Profit Hospitals More Likely to Order Caesarean Sections

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

A few months ago, I wrote about how the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists would soon be issuing a set of guidelines to make it easier for women to find doctors that will allow them to give birth without Caesarean section. The guidelines would state that giving birth vaginally after a Caesarean section is now considered a "safe and appropriate choice" and that appropriate candidates for vaginal birth are women who have had two previous C-sections or are carrying twins.

I was extremely happy with these new guidelines because numerous studies have shown that many women give birth by Caesarean section unnecessarily. This is due to the fact that doctors and insurance companies are refusing to let mothers who have already had a Caesarean section give birth vaginally, and instead are forcing them to have unnecessary repeat Caesarean sections.

This week, more evidence has emerged that reveals why some women are being persuaded or forced to give birth by Caesarean section. According to a new study conducted by California Watch, which compiled data from California's birth records, for-profit hospitals are performing cesarean sections at higher rates than nonprofit hospitals. According to the data, from 2005 to 2007, women were at least 17 percent more likely to have a cesarean section at a for-profit hospital than at a nonprofit or public hospital. California Watch is California's largest independent investigative team and part of California’s non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting.

Researchers suggest that this data only confirms what has long been suspected: For-profit hospitals are urging or forcing mothers to have Caesarean section to increase revenues. Caesarean sections can bring in twice the amount of revenue than vaginal birth due to the increased amount of medical equipment, staff, and treatment required before, during, and after a C-section. In fact, according to a study by the Pacific Business Group on Health, hospitals can increase their revenues "by 82 percent by performing a C-section instead of a vaginal birth".

I am, again, greatly disturbed by this data. As I stated in my previous blog, there are multiple risks with any surgical procedure including infection, reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, and scarring. With Caesarean sections, there are added risks such as injury to the uterus and bowel obstruction. I believe that the choice of whether one should give birth by Caesarean section should be made with the best interest of mother and baby in mind, and not due to how profitable the procedure is for a hospital. I would be very interested to see whether any similar studies are going to be done using data from New York hospitals, and whether the results would be the same. However, I am almost positive that the results from this study speak for most hospitals across the United States.


1 Comments
the origin of this problem should be laid at the feet of the malpractice attorneys who have forced the hand of the obstetricians - clinical judgement takes a back seat to getting sued for millions
by Hal September 17, 2010 at 07:38 AM
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