ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
64°
Few Clouds
H 85° L 63°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    64°
    Current Conditions
    Few Clouds. H 85° L 63°
  • rain-day Created with Sketch.
    66°
    Afternoon
    Showers. H 67° L 59°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    65°
    Evening
    Cloudy. H 67° L 59°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Hospitals clamp down on dangerous early elective deliveries

For decades, doctors have been warned about the dangers of delivering babies early without a medical reason. But the practice remained stubbornly persistent.

Now, with pressure on doctors and hospitals from the federal government, private and public insurers and patient advocacy groups, the rate of elective deliveries before 39 weeks is dropping significantly, according to latest hospital survey from The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of some of the nation's largest corporations that buy health benefits for their employees.

The national average of elective early deliveries fell to 11.2 percent last year from 14 percent in 2011 and 17 percent in 2010. Nearly 800 U.S. hospitals report their data to Leapfrog, about a third of U.S. facilities offering maternity services.

“This data shows more hospitals are responding to the evidence,” said Cindy Pellegrini, senior vice president of the March of Dimes, which has been educating women and working with hospitals and doctors to lower early delivery rates. “This means babies are being born healthier and having a better start in life, and have a much greater likelihood of avoiding health consequences later on in life.”

Babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have feeding and breathing problems and infections that can result in admissions to neonatal intensive care units than those who are born later, studies show. The elective deliveries can also cause developmental problems that show up years after birth. 

Inducing labor early also carries risks for mothers because it increases the chances they will need cesarian sections.

Individual Hospitals

Rates of early elective deliveries by hospital: PDF file anddownloadable CSV spreadsheet

Since 1979, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended against deliveries or induced labor before 39 weeks unless there is a medical indication, such as the mother's high blood pressure or diabetes or signs that the fetus may be in distress.

Still, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of U.S. babies continued to be delivered early without medical cause, according to a report last year by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Leapfrog Chief Executive Officer Leah Binder said she’s encouraged by the latest figures, but says rates are still too high at many hospitals -- with some as high as 40 percent. “This is a move in right direction, but more needs to be done,” Binder said. 

Leapfrog wants to see rates no higher than 5 percent of all deliveries, a target achieved by nearly half of the reporting hospitals – up from 39 percent of hospitals in 2011.

State averages varied from a high of 26 percent in Pennsylvania to a low of 5.9 percent in Massachusetts and New York. Only states with at least 10 hospitals reporting data were counted toward a state average.

One reason some hospitals have been slow to lower their rate is a reluctance to pressure doctors to change their practice, she said.

Some rural hospitals may also have higher rates because doctors in solo practice sometimes schedule to deliver babies early to stagger their workload. Women who are unaware of the higher risks may also ask to deliver early out of convenience.

Some of the most dramatic improvements last year came from states such as South Carolina and Illinois where business groups and insurers have exerted pressure to decrease high-risk deliveries. In Illinois, the rate has been cut almost in half to about 7 percent through efforts by organizations such as the Midwest Business Group on Health.

Employers and insurers have gotten involved partly to reduce health costs, since stays in neonatal intensive care units can average well over $60,000.

This year, the South Carolina Medicaid program and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina stopped reimbursingproviders for performing early deliveries without medical cause. In 2012, the state, working with the March of Dimes and other groups, asked hospitals voluntarily to reduce their rate of early deliveries. The rate of early elective deliveries in South Carolina hospitals fell to 10 percent last year from 19 percent in 2011, the Leapfrog data show.

“We are pleased to see these improved health outcomes,” said Kim Cox, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Texas Medicaid stopped paying for early elective deliveries in 2011, and New York and New Mexico are considering similar actions, according to state officials.

Some hospitals are moving on their own. Boston Medical Center reduced its rate to 5.3 percent last year from 22.5 percent in 2011 by reminding doctors that delivering babies even one or two days before 39 weeks would not be allowed without medical cause. The hospital also informed women about the policy during prenatal care.

“All of the nurses, midwives and doctors on Labor and Delivery are aware that decreasing elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks is an important goal for our service,” said Dr. Ronald Iverson, director of quality improvement for OB/GYN at Boston Medical Center.

We want to hear from you: Contact Kaiser Health News

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Ten structures are “lost” as the result of a fast-moving wildfire in Bryceville. Nassau County Emergency Management says the official emergency shelter set up for evacuees is the Bryceville Baptist Church at 7732 US Hwy 301. The American Red Cross is cooperating with that shelter. The Florida Highway Patrol says two other shelters have been established- one at Gray Gables Church, 54031 Church Road and one at Callahan First Baptist Church, 45090 Green Avenue. Shifting winds drove the fire, which the Florida Forest Service for the District says is more than 350 acres around CR 119, CR 121, and Countryside Acres. As of 9:30PM, the fire was reported as 50% contained. The evacuations will remain in effect until the fire is completely contained. Our partner Action News Jax reports that the fire started as an illegal burn, where a landowner was burning leaves and trash and things got out of control. We’re told that landowner will be held responsible. Nassau County Firefighters, the Florida Forest Service, and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue are all working the scene. Facilities have been taking in animals from anyone who had to evacuate. All Paws Boarding at 8356 US Hwy 301 is sheltering dogs and cats. You’re asked to bring a crate and vaccination history if you can. The Walker Quarter Horse Farm at 14452 Normandy Blvd is taking in horses for free, but request owners bring feed, hay, and supplies.
  • Residents near County Road 121, County Road 119 and Countryside Acres in Bryceville are ordered to evacuate due to a 250-plus acre wildfire. Nassau County Emergency Management said CR 121 is shut down between DB Hicks Road and Willis Lane in Bryceville. Nassau County Emergency Management said the fire has gained momentum due to windy conditions and structures are threatened. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Florida Forest Service is assisting Nassau County firefighters in working to protect homes. Emergency personnel are going door to door to evacuate homeowners in the path of the fire. No structures have been damaged at this point.
  • Forbes has released its annual list of the richest people in the world, but President Donald Trump’s position on the list has dramatically declined. USA Today reported that Trump’s ranking dramatically fell 220 slots from No. 324 to No. 544. That ranking is a 20-way tie. >> Read more trending news At No. 1 for the fourth year in a row is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 61, whose net worth increased over $10 billion from $75 billion to $86 billion. Warren Buffet is in the second spot. His net worth increased $14.8 billion from 60.8 billion in 2016 to $75.6 billion, according to Forbes. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a significant net worth increase from $45.2 to $72.8 billion and closes out the top three. Here are the top 10 richest people in the world, according to Forbes: Bill Gates: $86 billion  Warren Buffett: $75.6 billion  Jeff Bezos: $72.8 billion Amancio Ortega: $71.3 billion  Mark Zuckerberg: $56 billion Carlos Slim Helu: $54.5 billion  Larry Ellison: $52.2 billion Charles Koch: $48.3 billion David Koch: $48.3 billion Michael Bloomberg: $47.5 billion
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff grabbed the national spotlight Monday when he was given 15 minutes to present a case accusing President Donald Trump’s campaign of colluding with Russian officials to meddle with the 2016 presidential election. Schiff, who was elected to Congress in 2000 and is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, took the time to lay out a blistering attack against Trump, naming campaign workers and other associates whom he claims have ties that are too close for comfort with various Russian officials and those who support them. On Wednesday, Schiff was in the spotlight again when he attacked the HPSCI chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-California), for announcing publicly that it is likely that some of Trump’s communications ended up being “captured” during routine surveillance operations. That information, Nunes said, included names of the people involved in those conversations and those names, he claims, were shared among intelligence organizations.  Schiff responded with his own press conference, claiming that Nunes had “tainted” the investigation into Russian interference in the election and now only a special prosecutor could fairly look into the accusations. Who is Adam Schiff and how did he get to this position? Here are a few things you may not know about him. He is an attorney. He graduated from Harvard.  He wasn’t a shoo-in for Congress. He lost three elections to the California State House before being elected to the state Senate. He was then elected to the U.S. House in 2001. He may run for Sen. Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat if she retires in 2018. As the ranking member of the HPSCI, he’s a member of the “Gang of Eight.” In that role, he is privy to high-level intelligence information. By law, he receives information about intelligence from the White House. He is on leave from the House Appropriations Committee, and served on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. He voted for the Patriot Act, and also has sponsored animal rights legislation. He’s married. His wife’s name is Eve. The couple have two children.
  • A Pennsylvania woman is facing felony charges after allegedly riddling the front of a Pittsburgh-area restaurant with bullets after she was cut off from the bar. Police said Jamie Dawson fired 5 to 6 rounds into establishment in Trafford overnight Monday. The shots shattered glass and pockmarked the building with bullet holes. >> Read more trending news Dawson became angry after she was kicked out of the restaurant over her drunken behavior, police said. A bartender was able to lock the door and called 911 as the shots rang out. Dawson was later arrested at her mother’s house. It’s not her first run-in with the law. Dawson was also charged earlier this month in two separate drunken driving incidents in Allegheny County.

The Latest News Videos