Pregnant women may be receiving more C-sections to generate higher income for hospitals and doctors.

During a time of economic recession, doctors and hospitals may be choosing C-section deliveries to pad the bottom line. According to a database review by California Watch, for-profit hospitals in California have a 17% higher rate of C-sections when compared to non-profit hospitals.

Medical reasons stated for giving C-sections in place of natural labor included maternal obesity, maternal age, and pregnancy complications. While there are some cases where a C-section is medically necessary, California Watch noted significantly higher rates of C-section in low-risk pregnancy patients who gave birth in for-profit hospitals.

California Watch reviewed records from 253 hospitals in the state. Of specific concern were the C-section rate of low-risk pregnancies at Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center and Los Angeles Community Hospital. Kaiser is a non-profit hospital and Los Angeles is a profit hospital.

At Kaiser, low-risk pregnancies were delivered by C-section only 9% of the time. Los Angeles Community Hospital, however, delivered babies to women with the same characteristics 47% of the time. These rates do not include C-sections determined medically necessary.

Desirre Andrews of the International Cesarean Awareness Network was quoted as saying, “This data is compelling and strongly suggests, as many childbirth advocates currently suspect, that there may be a provable connection between profit and the cesarean rate.”

Higher C-section rates were not directly linked to race or socioeconomic background. This is the first report to reveal a possible connection between C-section rates and profit.

Source: Christian Nordqvist. California Watch. MedicalNewsToday. 13 September 2010.

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