Finding and Comparing C-Section Rates by Hospital

November 26, 2007

I learned via ICAN that the New Jersey Star-Ledger has made quite a bit of public data easily available on its website, and these databases include c-section and VBAC rates by hospital.

Although the website does not provide any information on why rates might be what they are for a given hospital (such as the type of facility or relevant hospital policies), it might be useful for women who study birth or are trying to choose a hospital for their own childbearing experience.

For example, we find a wide range of c-section rates – the lowest rate for 2006 was 18% (in a hospital with a 33% VBAC rate), and the highest was 62% (in a hospital with zero VBACs). Even the hospital with the lowest rate of c-section is performing more than the 15% the World Health Organization recommends and the Healthy People 2010 initiative has set as a goal. Historical data is also available going back to 1997, allowing us to see, for example, that Riverview Medical Center, which had a 50% c-section and 4% VBAC rate in 2006, had only a 21% c-section rate and 43% VBAC rate just ten years ago.

C-section rates in general can be difficult to find, with national resources focusing on state-by-state data, many state resources focusing on county data, and facility-level data spread around among numerous websites. Often, the data is too old to be useful in making decisions. However, I was able to find relatively recent by-facility rates for the following states:

  • Alabama – Scroll down to “Births by Method of Delivery and Hospital of Occurrence with Cesarean Section and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Rates” to download PDF tables of c-section and VBAC rates by facility, currently available for 2003, 2004, and 2005.
  • Alaska – Rates of VBAC, primary, and repeat c-section by facility for 2005, with data going back to 1990.
  • California – On the location tab, you can click “Go” to return the whole state without entering a search. Clicking on the “Maternity” option will return a list of facilities with c-section rate. Clicking on a facility name will indicate whether VBAC is routinely available, although this is a simple “yes” or “no” without additional details. Data is currently from 2004.
  • Florida – Download the “Cesarean Deliveries in Florida Hospitals” PDF, produced in 2006 using 2004 data. Detailed data by facility starts on page 32 and includes c-section, primary (first-time) and repeat c-section, and VBAC rates.
  • Maine – This is rather unwieldy, but you can choose a hospital and year, and scroll down in the resulting table to see the number of c-sections and vaginal deliveries. If you divide the number of c-sections by the total of the c-sections and vaginal deliveries together, you’ll get an idea of the facility’s c-section rate.
  • Massachusetts – The most current 2005 report (PDF) lists c-section rates by facility beginning on page 39.
  • New York – View “hospital labor intervention statistics” one hospital and year at a time, with 2000-2005 figures.
  • Oregon – 2004 c-section rates by facility, grouped into geographic regions. Although provided via the Oregon Health Policy and Research governmental website, there appear to be some errors, such as the statement that “There is no recommended or benchmark rate for cesarean sections,” and the underlined assertion that “On average, 2.4% of births in Oregon hospitals were delivered by cesarean section in 2004,” despite a rate of 24.3% listed in the table just below the statement.
  • Texas – Scroll down to the “utilization Indicators” section to download primary c-section and VBAC rate (by hospital) tables, which currently use 2005 data.
  • Utah – Primary c-section and VBAC rates, currently with 2005 data.

While some of these may be one-time reports, the agencies and organizations providing the data may be good sources for updated rate information in future years. Do you know of additional data by hospital that I’ve missed? Please leave a comment, and we’ll update the post.

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