New Report shows Unnecessary C-Sections and Episiotomies Are Dangerously Common

Latest Report Shows Early Elective Delivery Rate at an All Time Low, But Unnecessary C-Sections and Episiotomies Are Dangerously Common

Six Michigan hospitals fully meet all standards for safe maternity care practices

NOVI, MICHIGAN – February 28, 2017 – The Economic Alliance for Michigan (EAM), along with The Leapfrog Group, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit representing employers and other purchasers striving to improve health care quality and safety, released its 2017 Maternity Care Report. Analyzed by Castlight Health, the report summarizes Leapfrog’s data by hospital at the national level, unavailable from any other public source.

Rates for two major medical interventions in maternity care (early elective deliveries and episiotomies) have reached their lowest point since Leapfrog began collecting and publicly reporting maternity care quality data.

Hospitals’ efforts to reduce their rate of early elective deliveries has been a tremendous success, declining to just 1.9 percent compared to 17.0 percent in 2010. The analysis also showed the rate of episiotomies has fallen to 9.6 percent. While this represents progress from the rate of 13.0 percent first reported in 2012, this rate is still significantly higher than Leapfrog’s target of 5 percent or less. The C-section rate of 25.8 percent is virtually unchanged from the prior year and is still higher than Leapfrog’s target rate of 23.9 percent or lower.

“I’m inspired to see the rate of early elective deliveries decline to near zero, showing the power of transparency in galvanizing health care leaders to reduce these unnecessary and dangerous procedures,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. “However, significant progress is still needed to reduce the rate of unnecessary episiotomies and C-sections. We must remain vigilant and continue to demand public reporting of this information to ensure the safety of mothers and their children, as well as to educate employers, purchasers and women themselves who have a powerful stake in the quality of maternity care.”

In Michigan, six hospitals fully met all three standards: Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, DMC Harper-Hutzel in Detroit, Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Lakeland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Munson Medical Center in Traverse City and Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial in Fremont.

“Expecting parents need to educate themselves on the best choice of hospital for the safest delivery and highest quality of care when their newborn arrives,” said Bret Jackson, president, EAM. “Just because a hospital’s labor and delivery floor is like a five-star resort, doesn’t mean the best care is being delivered.”

Additional key findings from the Maternity Care Report include:

  • In Michigan, 91 percent of reporting hospitals fully met the standard for elective early delivery, 42 percent fully met the C-section standard and 37 percent fully met the episiotomy standard.
  • Maternity care quality is unaffected by hospital type: When comparing teaching hospitals to non-teaching hospitals, and urban to rural hospitals, the report showed maternity quality performance data to be nearly identical. This provides evidence against common theory that particular hospital types provide better quality maternity care.
  • More transparency is needed. According to The Leapfrog Group, only 43 of the possible 117 hospitals in Michigan with labor and delivery services reported to The Leapfrog Group survey in 2016.

“With childbirth accounting for the majority of all hospitalizations for women covered by employer health plans, it’s crucial that quality maternity care remains a top priority,” said Jonathan Rende, Chief R&D Officer at Castlight Health. “Through our work with The Leapfrog Group, combined with Castlight’s health benefits platform, we are able to provide families with carefully researched information to help them make better health decisions during one of the biggest milestones in their life.”

The complete Maternity Care Report is available online. Other publicly available resources include:

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