Unnecessary C-Sections – A Growing Epidemic in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately one in three women in the U.S. deliver through cesarean section (c-section). Over the past few weeks, a number of studies have been released causing quite a stir among the medical community. The data points to a growing problem in the healthcare industry – a large percentage of c-sections performed each year are unnecessary. These surgeries carry greater risk for both mother and baby, and come with a much higher price tag than a traditional vaginal delivery.

A study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal last month, found that approximately 45% of c-section deliveries performed in 2001 were not medically indicated. This finding came from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort that examined data from 9,350 pairs of mothers and children looking at a mother’s sociodemographics, health, stressful life events, pregnancy complications, and history of C-section as a determinant of medically indicated or non-medically indicated c-sections.

In deciding whether or not a delivery should be performed via caesarian section, doctors often consider a mother’s past delivery history (has she had any prior cesarian sections), the possibility of premature delivery, size of baby, the number of babies in the womb and the position of the baby. A recent study issued by Consumer Reports suggests that another factor is largely considered – the location of the delivery. The investigation examined births that took place in 22 states (including New Jersey) during a two-year period between 2009 and 2012. The results were alarming, indicating that cesarean section rates for low-risk deliveries vary greatly depending upon the hospital and not solely on the mother’s risk factors.

In one example cited in the report, nearly 55% of women expecting low-risk delivery underwent cesarean sections in a local Los Angeles hospital. In another hospital, only several miles away, 15% of women expecting low-risk deliveries had c-sections.

While c-sections have become routine in the United States, they remain a major surgical procedure carrying great risk and long recovery time for mothers. The procedure is also significantly more expensive than traditional child birth. On average, a cesarean costs approximately $4000 more than a vaginal delivery.

If you were forced to undergo a cesarean section that was not medically indicated and suffered harm as a result, the attorneys of Nagel Rice, LLP may be able to help. Our experienced legal team has represented countless families in complex obstetrical malpractice cases throughout New Jersey. Call us at 973-618-0400 to schedule your free consultation.