An alarming number of babies are born through early elective deliveries, increasing the odds of complications and death and contributing to high costs of care. That's according to a call to action issued by the Leapfrog Group, a Washington-based quality-improvement organization formed by large employers.
Too many early elective deliveries: Leapfrog
Using data from its 2010 Annual Survey of U.S. hospitals, the group found that the practice of scheduling early deliveries between 37 and 39 weeks gestation without medical indication varied widely among hospitals. Those deliveries occur despite data that demonstrate the health risks of inducing birth early without a medical reason, according to Leapfrog.
Based on feedback from professionals in the field, Leapfrog set the desired benchmark rate at 12% of deliveries. Of the 773 hospitals that voluntarily reported their rates of early elective deliveries, more than half reported a rate higher than 12%, and some hospitals had rates as high as 60%.
While those numbers cause concern, said Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder, even more worrisome are the hundreds of hospitals that declined to provide their rates. “Hospitals, health plans, providers, and communities need to do more to protect women and babies from this harmful practice,” Binder said. “Every hospital should publicly report on their rate and actively prevent the practice, and every woman planning to give birth should demand the information.”
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