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Most San Diego Hospitals Fail To Meet Goal For Reducing C-Sections

Photo credit: Joshua Rappeneker / Flickr

A newborn baby is shown, June 25, 2013.

There's a nationwide effort underway to reduce unnecessary C-sections, but only three San Diego hospitals have hit the mark.

State health officials have placed 104 hospitals on a new honor roll for meeting a federal goal of reducing C-section births.

Only three San Diego-area hospitals made the list: Scripps Mercy, UC San Diego and Sharp Grossmont.

C-sections are associated with a higher risk of infection and other complications.

The federal goal is to lower the C-section rate for low-risk, first-time births to 23.9 percent.

There's a huge variation of C-section rates among California hospitals.

David Lansky, CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health, said in some California hospitals, more than half of the births are by C-section.

“And that suggests that a woman’s risk of undergoing a C-section, depends largely on where she decides to deliver," he said. "And of course, many women don’t know that, as they walk in the door of a hospital about to go through that experience.”

One of the challenges of reducing unnecessary C-sections is that they’re more lucrative for both doctors and hospitals.

Julie Morath, president of the Hospital Quality Institute, said that's an important issue to address.

“There are different schools of thought in terms of what the incentive might be to encourage vaginal deliveries and discourage C-sections. And one of those is a universal reimbursement for a birth, regardless of the vehicle for that birth," she explained.

Experts say reducing unnecessary C-sections requires a collaborative effort between doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

Correction: The story has been changed to include Sharp Grossmont Hospital as one of the hospitals on the honor roll for meeting a federal goal of reducing C-section births.

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