High C-section rate could be financially motivated

The number of cesarean deliveries that are performed at hospitals in California and around the country may be excessive, according to some researchers. In the United States, nearly 33 percent of births are C-sections. The U.S. C-section rate is much higher than the ideal C-section rate of 10 to 15 percent that was established by the World Health Organization.

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015 suggested that the ideal C-section rate recommended by the WHO might be too low. The researchers determined that the optimal lifesaving rate for C-sections was approximately 19 percent of births. At higher rates, fetal mortality rates do not decline, and patients who have undergone unnecessary C-sections may be exposed to risks from the surgeries.

Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the National Center for Biotechnology have pointed out the financial incentives that could be influencing obstetricians’ decisions to perform C-sections. The average cost of a vaginal delivery is much lower than the average cost of a C-section, and a C-section can be done in about one-eighth of the time that a normal vaginal delivery takes. In addition to the financial incentive, C-sections have a lower liability risk than vaginal deliveries.

Although there may be many cases of C-sections that are performed for non-medical reasons, some C-sections are needed to prevent birth injuries. A medical malpractice attorney can often help a family look into the details of a child’s birth to determine if a C-section would have prevented the baby or mother being injured during delivery. If negligence was the cause, an attorney can assist the family in pursuing monetary compensation.

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