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N Engl J Med. 1988 Dec 8;319(23):1511-6.

A successful program to lower cesarean-section rates.

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1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60608.

Abstract

Despite the consensus that national cesarean-section rates are excessive, they continue to rise. Currently, approximately one of every four deliveries is by cesarean section. We developed an initiative to reduce the number of cesarean deliveries to a rate of 11 percent of all deliveries at our inner-city hospital. Participation by attending physicians was voluntary and not linked to any sanction. The program included a stringent requirement for a second opinion, objective criteria for the four most common indications for cesarean section, and a detailed review of all cesarean sections and of individual physicians' rates of performing them. During the first two years of the program, the cesarean-section rate fell from 17.5 percent of 1697 deliveries in 1985 to 11.5 percent of 2301 deliveries in 1987 (P less than 0.05). The proportion of infants with five-minute Apgar scores lower than 7 increased from 3 percent in 1985 to 4.9 percent in 1987 (P less than 0.05), but neither the fetal mortality rate (11.9 per 1000) nor the neonatal mortality rate (11.2 per 1000) in 1987 differed significantly from the rates in 1985. A single maternal death, unrelated to cesarean delivery, occurred during the study. Rates of both primary and repeat cesarean sections decreased, although only the decline in the rate of primary cesarean sections, from 12 to 6.8 percent, was statistically significant (P less than 0.05). During the same period, operative vaginal deliveries (i.e., forceps deliveries and midpelvic procedures) declined from 10.4 to 4.3 percent (P less than 0.05) of total deliveries. We conclude that an initiative within an obstetrics department can reduce cesarean-section rates substantially without adverse effects on the outcome for mother or infant.

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PMID:
3185675
DOI:
10.1056/NEJM198812083192304
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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