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Declining C-Section Rate Is Good News for California Patients

Given the added risk for medical error and other adverse outcomes, we are pleased to report that the steady increase in Cesarean section childbirth seems to be reversing in California. In 2014, California hospitals reduced the number of C­ sections performed by more than 1,000 compared with 2013, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.

As previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, Cesarean section delivery rates in California have been rising concurrently with maternal morbidity. Medical experts believe that’s because C-sections have higher risks of complications such as infection, bleeding, or blood clots when compared to vaginal births.

Despite the risks, doctors have increasingly allowed C-sections for non-medical reasons, effectively allowing doctor and patients to “schedule” delivery.

According to the World Health Organization, the ideal C-section rate is approximately 15 percent. In 2009, the U.S. rate was more than double at 32.9 percent. However, it appears the trend may have reached its peak.

As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, hospitals are facing direct pressure from insurers and patients to reduce C-section rate. For insurance companies, encouraging vaginal deliveries is a cost-saving measure. In California, a hospital stay including a vaginal delivery costs an average of $15,259; by comparison, maternal care plus a C-section costs $21,307.

Given the risks involved with unnecessary C-sections, patients are also beginning to factor in the likelihood of a Cesarean section delivery when selecting a doctor and/or health care facility. “As more data on medical facilities is available to patients, hospitals don’t want to fall to the bottom of the pack and lose patients who see higher C-section rates as unfavorable,” the article notes.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a C-section mistake or other medical error, you may be entitled to compensation, such as pain and suffering damages and reimbursement of medical expenses. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.