Leapfrog Group Releases Data on Early Elective Births

By Rachel Walden — January 26, 2011

The Leapfrog Group, an employer-oriented organization that examines the safety and quality of U.S. hospitals and releases an annual “top hospitals” list, today released data on rates of early elective cesarean sections and inductions performed without a medical indication in U.S. hospitals.

As Leapfrog’s media advisory notes, ACOG and other organizations recommend against elective induction or cesarean prior to 39 weeks in order to minimize possible complications for women and their babies. Hospital accrediting organization the Joint Commission has also started paying attention to this issue.

Hospitals were asked about their total number of births and number of births where an elective induction or cesarean section without a medical indication happened between 37 and 39 weeks. From 773 responding hospitals, rates ranged from <5% to >40%, and varied widely within states and cities. The Group set a target rate of 12%, and classified hospitals as better or worse than that target – half of hospitals reportedly met this target. It is not readily apparent how this target was set, but the Group does state that it plans to lower the target to 5% for 2011.

Results from the survey are arranged by state at http://www.leapfroggroup.org/tooearlydeliveries#State. Not all hospitals responded, and I’d like to see more details about the survey methodology, but this data may provide a starting point for women choosing a hospital and those interested in working to reduce the rate of these early elective births and their associated harms.

The Leapfrog Group is holding two webinars for health care professionals, hosted by Leapfrog’s Senior Science Director the Medical Director of March of Dimes to focus and on the new 39-week toolkit developed by the March of Dimes and its partners. These webinars are being offered free of charge on February 15th from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. ET and February 17th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET.

Related to the release of the report, Childbirth Connection has published a new section on induction of labor on its website.

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