A few Massachusetts journalists have a knack for finding the most egregious quotes from Massachusetts doctors. I’ve read both of their work on WickedLocal.com, but other local online papers have picked up their work as well.
The article Cesarean section rates at Brockton area hospitals soar, outpacing state average was posted yesterday and features quotes from two doctors at Good Samaritan Medical Center, whose cesarean rate is 39.7 percent.
Dr. Angela Aslami, an OB-GYN at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, said there is no “magical number” for C-sections.
“Every patient needs to be evaluated as an individual,” she said. “As long as we have good outcomes — healthy moms, healthy babies — whatever that C-section number turns out to be, is the right number.”
But, Dr. Charles Anderson, medical director of the special care nursery at Good Samaritan Medical Center, advised against reading too much into the data.
“I don’t know what it says about a hospital. I think it might say more about a population it serves,” he said.
In February, another journalist covered the story of the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital’s 43.7 percent cesarean rate and took the following comments from Bernard Logan, chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Hallmark Health System:
“We have not heard any concerns from our patient population that they thought they were rushing into a cesarean section,” he said. “We are only trying to get the best outcome for the mother and baby.”
In addition, the write reported the following:
The most frequent reason for a C-section, Logan said, is simply because the baby is too large to be delivered vaginally, or because the shape of woman’s pelvis makes it safer and easier to deliver by C-section.
There is no magical number for cesareans.
Whatever we do is right.
Every surgery we perform is necessary.
Don’t read too much into the data.
There’s something flawed about the population of women “served” by the hospital.
We’re doing our best.
No one has complained about it.
The babies are wicked HUGE.
The problem with this popular new form of medical PR, which amounts to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Hold Us Accountable, Don’t You See That We Just Want Healthy Mothers and Babies?!” is that it’s based on an inaccurate assumption that cesareans produce healthier babies and mothers. It’s no secret that once the cesarean rate reaches a certain point, there is a strong inverse association between c-section rates and maternal and neonatal mortality. More cesareans, fewer healthy mothers and babies.
This February post, Massachusetts’ Wicked High Cesarean Rates includes information on how to file a JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) complaint for an unnecessary cesarean or VBAC ban, Massachusetts-based resources for cesarean advocacy and midwifery as well as a list of the cesarean rates from ALL Massachusetts hospitals.
You don’t have to be one of those “magical” numbers.