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Newborn Deliveries Scheduled Too Early | Deltona Child Injury Lawyer

Newborn Deliveries Scheduled Too Early

Thousands of babies are scheduled for delivery too early, resulting in a higher risk for death and life-long health problems.

In a survey of 773 hospitals by the hospital quality watchdog The Leapfrog Group, the rates of early elective deliveries range from less than 5 percent to more than 40 percent. The hospitals from around the country that voluntarily provided Leapfrog with information reported more than 57,000 early elective deliveries by cesarean section or induction in 2010.

Experts, including those from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Childbirth Connection, and the March of Dimes, caution that the amount of time a baby needs to develop fully, which includes having a fully developed brain and other organs, is at least 39 completed weeks. Sometimes there is a medical reason to schedule a newborn delivery before the 39th week — for example, if mother has high blood pressure at the end of pregnancy or broken membranes before labor begins. However, this national survey finds that newborns are
being “electively” scheduled for delivery before the 39th week, meaning without a medical reason, at alarming rates.

“Hospitals, health plans, providers, and communities need to do more to protect women and babies from this harmful practice,” said Leah Binder, Leapfrog CEO, in a press release. “And women need to protect themselves by refusing to schedule their deliveries before 39 weeks without a sound medical reason, and by knowing the facts about the hospitals they plan to deliver in. Every hospital should publicly report on their rate and actively prevent the practice, and every woman planning to give birth should demand the information.”

Leapfrog, Childbirth Connection, and the March of Dimes are working together to share information about the importance of every week of pregnancy with women, purchasers, and others. In addition, Binder announced a Call to Action to other leaders in the health care community to prevent elective deliveries before 39 weeks.

Responding to that Call to Action is a partnership of some of the nation’s largest health plans: Aetna, CIGNA, UnitedHealthcare, and WellPoint. These four national health plans have been collaborating on an awareness campaign that includes these three key messages:

  • The last weeks of pregnancy are important.
  • There are risks for mothers and babies if births are scheduled before 39 weeks for nonmedical reasons.
  • Expectant mothers should investigate the rates of elective deliveries for hospitals in their community.

“The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby’s health because important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then,” said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, senior vice president and medical director of the March of Dimes in a press release. “A baby’s birth should not be scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy, unless their health care provider says it’s medically necessary. The 39-week toolkit can help ensure that inductions and c-sections are done at the right time and for the right reasons.”

Leapfrog has identified several hospitals and health systems, such as Hospital Corporation of America, which have promoted and supported implementation of policies to deter doctors from scheduling cesarean sections and elective inductions for nonmedical reasons. This example suggests that hospitals can help implement policies that improve adherence to evidence-based care.

The survey measure is endorsed by the National Quality Forum, an organization tasked with bringing together experts and stakeholders to come to consensus on national measures of hospital quality and safety. Hospital rates of elective deliveries scheduled too early are now available for easier viewing on a special website:

For more on medical safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach medical malpractice attorney.

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