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Looking for Hospital Cesarean Rates is a Snipe Hunt

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By Jill—Unnecesarean   


The task of gathering information on hospital cesarean rates that is available to the consumer is a fool’s errand. The data is either not reported at all or it’s already risk-adjusted, often without a clear definition of what they’ve adjusted for, meaning that we’re all comparing apples to oranges to some mysterious fruit that no one has ever heard of.

It’s realistic for ALL states to report raw data from 2008 and possibly 2009 at this point. One state reports nothing on cesareans at all but you can find an updated accounting of every abortion performed until 2008. Most states have at least some mention of cesarean rates but the data is from 2004 or earlier. And that helps a woman who gets pregnant today… how?

The cesarean section is now the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. The lack of information available to the consumer about each hospital’s use of the procedure is appalling.


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Reader Comments (16)

I couldn't agree more! I have been looking and looking - all to find nothing. It drives me nuts. They don't want to advertise their cesarean rates, Funny thing though, while I was researching cesarean rates in MN (where I live), I came across an OB/GYN job posting. They were advertising their cesarean rates and the fact that they don't do VBAC's. They also get a sign on bonus of $100,000!!! Not to mention they get productivity incentives. The whole job posting made me sick to my stomach. And to think the majority of women have absolutely no clue. I am working on a piece about what OB/GYN's real interests are. I would love to snoop around hospitals for a while and see all the behind the scenes stuff.

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessilyn

I agree. I've been curious about my city's hospitals and I've only found a rate on one.

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I recently called my local OB department to inquire about cesarean rates. Their response was confusion about why I would be interested in such information. They told me it's not something they normally get inquiries on and wouldn't know who to direct me to for such information. I found my own way to an executive who told me he was not permitted to "quote" me any numbers but past numbers were published at various consumer and insurance websites. I followed every link/site he suggested and hit a dead end with every single one. When I followed up with him, his main concern was how I received his contact information. He never shared any rates. I still don't know how to get them.


Nice that they're playing dumb, huh?

I'll see what I can find for your state based on your IP address. I'll bump it up the queue.


April 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

I had to go to my state's Dept of Health, and then fill out a CONTACT US form on their health statistics page, and someone from their office sent me an email with a spread sheet including hospital by hospital data. Is that not available in other states? Wish it was easier to find for everyone!! When you ask docs, or nurses, they always beat around the bush "I don't know, We don't keep stats, it's comparable" ugh!

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKELLY

The Birth Survey has a "GACSTAT" project, which is collecting hospital-by-hospital c/s rates (and other rates) for every state in the country. Some states are very open with this info, and it's already published on their Dept of Health websites, other states don't know anyone is interested in this info and so don't publish it, and other states actively BLOCK this info from being published (we've tried).

What we really need are GACSTAT ambassadors to help with the Transparency in Birth project. You have to take training to be a GACSTAT ambassador but then you have access to a lot of this info, or info on how to get it in your state. You can also work on other states too.


The training is a webinar that takes a couple of hours, and then there is a grassrootsgrapevine website that helps you figure out where to go from there.

I am most interested in getting all the states' rates documented, and also finding out whether or not this data has been "scrubbed" (risk-adjusted, so the full raw data is not what's being publicized).

I urge folks to sign up and help this project get some momentum!!

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWellroundedmama

I caught some snipes down here in South Florida for you:


May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMomTFH

MomTFH, did you bang a paper bag with a spoon to find this? You did good.

May 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

Uh, Jessilyn, can I get that hospital number? Not that I am going to dive at that 100K or anything. To get the data for c/section rates I have to set down and do long division with the delivery logs. If I have this much trouble what are the lay people to do? I do not know my section rates but I bet they are "comparable", whatever that means. The sad part is I do not think that most people will shop for facilities with lower section rates. It is too easy for them to ask their provider why their facility is higher and hear some bull about how they do more higher risk/richer/poorer/three legged patients or something. It may be true for high risk docs but an entire group in a primary or secondary care (tier) facility? I miss something here? I have a lousy section rate this weekend but I have done two scehduled repeats that showed up in labor early and about to do one that is ruptured with primary herpes outbreak two weeks ago. One vag delivery so far. I am covering for three groups, ten doctors. I cannot even tell you the section rates for the doctors I am covering. Pitiful, and, here's the take home, no one cares. There are no checks and balances that I can see that makes/requires/ or even questions the indications for a c/section. I could make up the Galaxo contraction pattern and no one, unless the patient did, would question. Guess I am tired and crabby tonight. I just wanted to watch the Nascar race but nooooo, I have to go surgering (I am not forgetting the importance of my job at all, I told mom I was going to blog while she was getting ready, she blogs too). If anyone wants to start a find the section rate movement count me in. But if anyone wants to tell me they swapped providers (docs only - apples/apples here) because of a published section rate I am all ears. Oops, I will read on Jills website with all ears, or something. Must scrub.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOb

I was told that the primary section rate at my ob's office was 17% wh'ch is pretty good but I'm not sure that I believe them based on the hospital's rate, which was over 30%. I was with the biggest ob office in town that seems to serve at least half of the pregnant women who deliver at the hospital I chose. The numbers just didn't add up.

Every time I asked the hospital what the rate was I got a lot of bull- " well we don't know really.." " last month it was really high but we had a lot of multiples and premature births" etc.

It seems very strange that better records are not kept. It's not like obs are generally secretive about the fact that they perform c-sections, so why hide how many if they think they're doing the best thing for everyone?

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersara
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