Arizona Releases Birth Injury Comparisons by Hospital

June 6, 2014

With an influx of birth injuriy risks that are heightened after surgery, the state’s Department of Health Services released a comparison guide that allows mothers to see which hospitals have the highest rate of cesarean section surgeries (C-sections) well as the shortest stay-time before discharge.

The data, which was recently loaded onto a state-run agency website after comprising information from 2012 hospital stays, helps pregnant women and couples planning to conceive learn about the hospitals with highest rates of C-section. In addition, the data compares the outcome of medical issues according to hospital. For instance, the amount of bleeding and the risks of death have been compiled using previous births throughout Arizona’s hospitals. The website even details patient satisfaction and which doctors and medical staff are the most friendly and open to communication.

Financial information and how much the average patient can expect to be billed for delivery and birth is also outlined. Although this information may not be as pertinent to someone who has insurance that covers the majority of the hospital bills, State Health Director Will Humble states that this can be an invaluable tool for patients who have poor insurance company and for those who have to pay out-of-pocket. For example, women who are covered under the Affordable Healthcare Act are required to pay a large deductible as well as foot the bill for a percentage of the total cost.

The costs can greatly differ according to each hospital. For instance, the cost of a C-section surgery at the Cobra Valley Regional Medical Center was listed at $10,810, while the average cost for the same procedure at West Arizona Regional Medical Center is $44,842.

Humble also explained that women who have an otherwise normal pregnancy without the need for a C-section should study each hospital, not only for price, but for how many C-section surgeries occur. Some physicians scheduled the surgery whether it’s needed or not, which is reflected by this high numbers of C-sections at the hospital where the physician works. In some instances, it’s hospital procedure to schedule C-sections, regardless of physician preference.

“It has more to do with the system inside of the hospital and the decision-making protocols that they have in place. That can even include whether there are nurse-midwives on staff to help with the delivery,” Humble said. 

Perhaps one of the most important details is the birth injury comparisons. The website compares the amount of birth injuries, the type, and the severity of each, according to hospital. Per Donna Courtney, the state’s  health department’s hospital data manager, the are certain things that a price tag can’t be applied to, one of which include the safety of the infant. 

Pain management comparison is also detailed on the website, provided from surveys taken from previous patients. While some women may prefer to have an epidural, others may want a natural birth. The site details which hospital works best with each patient’s requests as well as how well the medical team cooperated with each patient.

For more information, see the Arizona Department of Health Services “Hospital Compare” website. The information is comprised of data collected in 2012, but ongoing information is expected to be added.