MEDFORD, Ore. – A study by Consumer Reports found hospitals are performing too many “unnecessary” caesarian sections on mothers, and ranked local hospitals near the top and near the bottom of the list in Oregon. But doctors at local hospitals say the results can be skewed.
Consumer Reports rated 1,500 hospitals in 22 states, and calculated the results using hospital billing records. It found that many hospitals were performing C-sections on women anticipating a low-risk delivery – meaning the woman had not previously had a C-section, doesn’t deliver prematurely, and is pregnant with a single baby positioned properly. They said performing the procedure when it isn’t needed can lead to health risks for the mother and baby.
In the report, Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass and Asante Ashland Community Hospital rated third and fourth in Oregon, respectively, having performed fewer unnecessary C-Sections. Meanwhile, Providence Medford Medical Center and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center ranked in the bottom 13 hospitals in Oregon, with Rogue Regional listed last.
Local doctors said those ratings do not take into consideration the size of the hospital and the amount of patients it sees. Larger hospitals like Rogue Regional and Providence see many more patients than smaller hospitals, which means a larger number of high-risk patients.
Rogue Regional performed first-time C-sections on 17 percent of births last year.
“You have to read between the lines a little bit and see what they’re actually measuring,” said Dr. Nicholas Mills, Obstetrics Department Chairperson at Rogue Regional.
Mills said doctors also take other factors into consideration before recommending a C-section, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or whether the mother or baby can endure the stress of labor. Mills said doctors will always base their recommendation on medical reasons, and never take timing or convenience into consideration.
“We always approach patients on a case-by-case basis, and we look at other factors, but I always start with attempted vaginal delivery unless there’s a reason not to,” he said.
Dr. Felicia Cohen with Three Rivers also said her team of doctors try to avoid unnecessary C-sections.
“If there’s nothing pushing you [medically], why do it?” she said.
Representatives from Providence would not agree to speak on-camera for the story, but released a brief statement:
“Providence is constantly reviewing best practices to keep the care of the patient at the forefront of what we do. Our practice is to follow the latest clinical, medically reviewed information to guide us in providing the best patient care. As with other surveys, we will review these findings for any added information that might help us in the future.”