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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Sep;163(3):1081-7; discussion 1087-8.

Reducing cesarean sections at a teaching hospital.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville 32209.


A department-wide effort to reduce the cesarean section rate at the University Medical Center of Jacksonville (Florida) began in 1987. University Medical Center, a teaching hospital with approximately 4500 annual deliveries, serves an almost exclusively indigent obstetric population. Overall, the cesarean section rate declined from 28 per 100 deliveries in 1986 to 11 per 100 in 1989. Decreasing the number of repeat cesarean sections played an important role in reducing total cesarean deliveries. In 1986 32% of women with prior cesarean sections underwent a trial of labor. By 1989 this proportion had increased to 84%. In 1986 65% of women undergoing a trial of labor were delivered vaginally. By 1989 this proportion had increased to 83%. For these reasons the proportion of patients who had repeat cesarean sections dropped from 8% in 1986 to 3% in 1989. Changing approaches to the evaluation and management of dystocia and fetal distress also helped to lower the overall cesarean section rate. In 1986 cesarean sections for at least one of these two indications accounted for 14% of all deliveries. By 1989 this percentage had dropped to 4%. Because selective criteria for vaginal delivery of fetuses in breech presentation were maintained, incremental increased rates of vaginal breech delivery had only a minimal impact on lower overall cesarean section rates. The reduction in the number of cesarean sections was accomplished without compromising neonatal outcomes. In fact, during this 4-year period neonatal mortality rates actually decreased; neonatal morbidity rates remained stable. Our experience suggests that cesarean section rates can be substantially reduced without compromising the newborn.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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