Hospitals Make Progress in Eliminating Early Elective Deliveries: Good News, But More Work Needs to Be Done, Says Hospital Watchdog Group

The Leapfrog Group, an employer-driven hospital quality watchdog, recently released survey data from participating hospitals on the rate of elective, pre-term deliveries in U.S. hospitals. Pre-term deliveries, specifically elective cesareans or induction prior to 39 weeks gestation, are consistently shown to lead to worse health outcomes for mothers and babies, as well as higher costs. The 2011 report shows that 39% of participating hospitals had pre-term delivery rates at or below 5%, compared to 30% of participating hospitals in 2010. While it is promising that pre-term delivery rates were reduced from the previous year, rates remain high, and might be exacerbated by economic benefits which incentivize early medical intervention when it is not medically necessary. Furthermore, there is a range of 5% – 40% pre-term delivery rates among hospitals, demonstrating the need for consistent clinical guideline implementation and support across hospitals and health systems.

NEBGH is a strong proponent of the Leapfrog Group and the work it is conducting examining the relationship between how medical services are reimbursed and corresponding patterns of care. NEBGH is the “regional roll-out” for Leapfrog in New York and Connecticut, and as such, asks hospitals to fill out the Leapfrog survey every year. Since Leapfrog began focusing on this issue, pre-term delivery has become a priority area for the National Priorities Partnership and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Partnership for Patients campaign. The work of the Leapfrog Group is further demonstrating that eliciting clinical and health claims data from employers, purchasers, and providers highlights both shortcomings and strengths of the healthcare delivery system. Only through bringing such issues to our attention can purchasers get better value from health care, leading to improved outcomes for their employees and lower costs.

To view hospital-level data, The Leapfrog Group’s report can be viewed at www.leapfroggroup.org/tooearlydeliveries.