Certain California hospitals are taking steps to dramatically reduce early elective deliveries, citing the dangers of early births for women and infants and the potential cost savings of curbing the practice, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Early elective deliveries involve births that occur between weeks 37 and 39 without a medical reason. Such deliveries involve labor induction or caesarean section.
Early electives often are scheduled by women who do not want to be pregnant any longer or by physicians who want to avoid a night call for delivery.
However, infants born through early electives can have complications ranging from breathing and feeding problems to blood infections.
In addition, the deliveries increase the likelihood of c-sections, which raise the risk of complications for women.
California Hospitals Work To Reduce Early Electives
Leslie Kowalewski, associate state director of California's March of Dimes, said the state has 93 hospitals working to reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks.
Health care organizations participating in such efforts include:
- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, which has decreased its rate of early electives by 11% since early last year;
- Kaiser Permanente Northern California, which has reduced early electives from up to 15% in 2010 to 5% or less at 14 Northern California hospitals; and
- Sutter Health, which has implemented a campaign to reduce early electives at 20 facilities in Northern California.
Advocates of reducing early elective births say it will help reduce health care costs by shortening hospital stays and curbing use of neonatal intensive care units.
Tracy Flanagan -- director of women's health at Kaiser Permanente Northern California -- said reducing early electives can save thousands of dollars each day (Bazar, Contra Costa Times, 1/29).
The Contra Costa Times article was produced by the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. The Center is supported by a grant from CHCF, which publishes California Healthline.