Variation in the rates of operative delivery in the United States

Hospital Corporation of America, Division of Perinatal Safety, Nashville, TN, USA.
American journal of obstetrics and gynecology (Impact Factor: 3.97). 07/2007; 196(6):526.e1-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2007.01.024
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study was undertaken to examine the national and regional rates of operative delivery among almost one quarter million births in a single year in the nation's largest healthcare delivery system, using variation as an arbiter of the quality of decision making.
We compared the variation in rates of primary cesarean and operative vaginal delivery in facilities of the Hospital Corporation of America during the year 2004.
In 124 facilities representing almost 220,000 births during a 1-year period, the primary cesarean and operative vaginal delivery rates were 19% +/- 5% (range 9-37) and 7% +/- 4% (range 1-23). Within individual geographic regions, we consistently found variations of 200-300% in rates of primary cesarean delivery and variations approximating an order of magnitude for operative vaginal delivery.
Within broad upper and lower limits, rates of operative delivery in the United States are highly variable and suggest a pattern of almost random decision making. This reflects a lack of sufficient reliable, outcomes-based data to guide clinical decision making.

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