Surely we can do better than this

It’s summertime! The weather is warm, the t-shirts and skirts have been dragged out of the depths of my closet, and school is officially on hold for the next three months, which means I have a lot more time to play around on the internet, and go for walks, and eat ice cream, and most importantly, write tons of posts for this website! Aren’t you all in luck? (Granted, I’m not entirely sure that anyone is reading this website yet, but hey, it’s fun to have an imaginary audience.)

Anyway, amid all my ice cream eating and internet-surfing, I stumbled upon the 2002 labor intervention statistics for hospitals in the New York metropolitan area, courtesy of the New York State Dept. of Health, and nicely summarized on the Choices in Childbirth website. So, without further ado, here are the 2002 cesarean section rates for the major NYC hospitals we all know and love:

    Allen Pavillion… 28% (16% Primary, 12% Repeat)
    Bellevue Hospital… 19.8% (13% Primary, 6.8% Repeat)
    Beth Israel… 22.4% (15.1% Primary, 7.4% Repeat)
    Columbia Presbyterian… 33.8% (22.5% Primary, 11.3% Repeat)
    Harlem Hospital… 24.9% (15.1% Primary, 9.8% Repeat)
    Jamaica Hospital… 25.3% (16.5% Primary, 8.8% Repeat)
    King’s County… 23% (17.9% Primary, 5.9% Repeat)
    Lenox Hill… 31.5% (21% Primary, 10.5% Repeat)
    Maimonides… 18.9% (12% Primary, 6.8% Repeat)
    Metropolitan Hosp… 22.8% (11.9% Primary, 10.9% Repeat)
    Mt. Sinai Hospital… 26.9% (18.1% Primary, 8.8% Repeat)
    NY Downtown… 13.3% (9.0% Primary, 3.3% Repeat)
    NYU Medical Center… 26.4% (19.1% Primary, 7.3% Repeat)
    Roosevelt Hospital… 27.0% (19.4% Primary, 7.6% Repeat)
    St. Vincent’s… 26.1% (19.7% Primary, 6.5% Repeat)

These statistics usually aren’t that easy to find—it’s a pain in the ass to look them up or request them from the Dept. of Health, and few (if any) hospitals will volunteer their own cesarean section rates during the hospital tour for expectant families. Why? Because these CS rates are all embarassingly high. According to the World Health Organization, “countries with some of the lowest perinatal mortality rates in the world have cesarean section rates of less than 10%. There is no justification for any region to have a rate higher than 10-15%.” (see below for full citation1).

Most hospitals in NYC are averaging 22-25%. Some hospitals even go as high as 31-33%. That means that more than 1 in 4 women at those hospitals end up with a cearean. Those are terrible odds. Cesarean delivery is the most common surgery performed in the US right now. Is anyone else distressed by this? Can’t we do better than this?

1WHO, 1985. Appropriate Technology for Birth. Lancet, 2(8452), 436-437).

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