Hospitals Accused of Performing Unnecessary C-Sections

"Consumer Reports" magazine studies hospital records

Delivering a baby by C-section when it is not necessary can pose a health risk to a mother and baby.  But "Consumer Reports" magazine found many hospitals in the United States perform more C-sections than they should.

Consumer Reports analyzed data from more than 1,500 hospitals and found several were performing unnecessary C-sections in low-risk deliveries.

The results were released in a report titled, "What Hospitals Don't Want You To Know About C-Sections."

Melek Speros was looking forward to a natural childbirth but says when the time came to deliver, she felt pressured by her doctor to have a C-Section. But when her young child came along, Melek was able to give birth naturally.

"I really feel very lucky and very blessed," said Speros.

Nationwide, almost one-third of babies are delivered by C-section. Researchers with Consumer Reports says even low-risk women who haven't had a C-section before are often using the procedure.

"There are situation when a C-section is the safest option.  But the vast majority of women who anticipate a low-risk delivery should expect to have a natural birth," says Dr. Orly Avitzur with "Consumer Reports."

For low risk deliveries, Dr. Avitzur found C-section rates ranged from less than five percent to more than 50 percent.

The report ranked hospital C-section rates across the country. They were given ranges from "Better to Worse," depending on how many C-sections are performed.

Locally, Fallbrook Hospital ranked the best among San Diego County hospitals.

Kaiser Permanente San Diego, Palomar, Paradise Valley, Pomerado all ranked the same, just below Fallbrook. Also with the same ranking: Scripps Mercy and Encinitas, Sharp Chula Vista and Grossmont and UC San Diego. One step below (meaning they performed more C-sections) was Scripps Memorial La Jolla.

Scripps commented on the study by saying, "Scripps' Cesarean delivery rate is within the range of other hospitals of comparable size in the state. Patient safety is the highest priority, and a cesarean is usually performed when there are complications that would make natural birth dangerous to the mother and baby."

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