By Jill Arnold
California Watch, a reporting initiative launched in 2009 by the independent, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting, published the results today of the first independent analysis of cesarean rates at the 253 hospitals reporting birth statistics to State of California health authorities.
This analysis is the first to show that for-profit hospitals, such as Los Angeles Community Hospital with a 59 percent cesarean rate, have higher cesarean rates than non-profit hospitals, such as Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center at which only 14 percent of patients give birth by cesarean.
Higher cesarean rates were not found at hospitals that cater to wealthier patients; rather, higher rates were found at hospitals catering to all races and economic classes. California Watch found no correlation between cesarean rates and a hospital’s percentage of patients receiving Medi-Cal.
According to California Watch, four of the five hospitals in California with the highest cesarean rates were for-profit hospitals in Los Angeles County which treat a higher percentage of African American and Hispanic patients than the state average.
California Watch interviewed Gene Declercq, professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health regarding subtle incentives to increase efficiency. Said DeClercq:
“There are factors that are attractive to hospitals in terms of training and staff and facilities,” he said. “It’s a lot easier if you can do all your births between seven and 10 in the morning and know exactly how many operating rooms and beds you need.” Vaginal births are unpredictable, creating inefficiencies that can hurt the bottom line.
The organization released the results of their analysis to the public on Saturday, September 11, 2010, along with a sidebar on their methodology, a React & Act section with information for expectant parents, including a Q & A section with midwife Amy Romano, and region-specific materials (below).
California Cesarean Rates (All hospitals)
Download the data (.csv)
Downloadable C-section Primers
Información descargable sobre la cesárea
(Twitter hashtag #csectionCW)