Posted by: emjb | July 16, 2007

NYC: You don’t need to know how bad it is

According to this link, Public Advocate for NYC Betsy Gotbaum is giving local hospitals heat for their lack of transparency:

The Maternity Information Act requires that hospitals provide site-specific statistics on delivery procedures to all incoming maternity patients and all members of the public upon request. In 2005, the Office of the Public Advocate determined that none of the 44 hospitals providing labor and delivery services in New York City were in compliance with the MIA; most did not provide any information, and the one hospital that did attempt to comply provided a pamphlet containing information that was eight years old.

Well isn’t that interesting. I birthed in Brooklyn, and I can assure you, they didn’t give me any of those stats either. Here’s something that also surprises me not at all:

The Office of the Public Advocate further determined that the cesarean section rates among hospitals in New York City were striking. Overall, public hospitals had lower cesarean rates than privately operated facilities; however, with the exception of New York University Downtown Hospital, all hospitals had cesarean rates well above the 15 percent maximum rate recommended by the World Health Organization….The report also noted, In 2004, the average cesarean rate in New York City was 28.6 percent, a 2 percent increase over 2003, when the rate was 26.6 percent. Many New York City hospitals now have a c-section rate over 30 percent.

I’ll bet it’s closer to 35% by now.

Transparency is a huge issue in all aspects of healthcare. It can be impossible to find out how different hospitals compare in terms of outcomes and quality of care, and the hospitals themselves do everything in their power to resist giving out that info. Which is especially galling under an American system that constantly tells us we are “consumers” with the right to choose how we get our healthcare. Right to choose is meaningless if you don’t have accurate information about what you have to choose from.

Thankfully, the Lamaze organization is partnering with the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services to try to create some more transparency for pregnant women seeking maternity care:

An incredible group of grassroots advocates with leadership from Sandra Bitonti Stewart and Elan McAllister (under the umbrella of and with the accolades of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services and with support from Lamaze International among others) will officially launch the Transparency in Maternity Care Project in New York City on July 21, 2007. In the meantime the Grassroots Advocacy Committee has been collecting hospital data on hospital care practices and interventions and have developed a birth survey that will be used to gather women’s personal stories of their birth experiences. In the future women will be able to go to the website and find information about hospitals and providers…not just intervention rates but, just as important (if not more so), women’s personal experiences.

Oh man. I can’t WAIT to add my personal experiences at Brooklyn Methodist. Whoo doggie. That’s going to be a fun entry on their website. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the mom.


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