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Providence St. Jude C-Section and Episiotomy Rates Earn State's Top Honors

Providence St. Jude Medical Center Maternity Services recently received Cal Hospital Compare’s Honor Roll Award for reducing Cesarean births in first-time mothers with low-risk pregnancies.

Cal Hospital Compare, the Hospital Quality Institute and the California Health and Human Services Agency recognized hospitals for meeting or falling below a statewide target of 23.9% C-section births. Providence St. Jude exceeded that standard with a 19.9% rate.

Maternity Services has also exceeded state standards for episiotomies, which were once a routine part of childbirth. Today, low episiotomy rates are increasingly used by quality and patient safety organizations to evaluate a hospital’s maternity care, because evidence continues to show that the procedures can do more harm than good.

Cal Hospital Compare previously announced that while the state’s episiotomy average was 4.4%, Providence St. Jude had a much lower rate at just 1.5%.

“When it comes to creating optimal outcomes for new moms, our doctors are setting the benchmark—one that other hospitals are finding hard to achieve,” explains Dawn Price, MSN, RN, director of Maternal and Newborn Services.

Episiotomies are linked with worse perineal tears, loss of bladder or bowel control, pelvic floor defects, increased pain and delayed recovery. Research has made clear the benefits to new moms of avoiding an episiotomy. Leapfrog, a leading hospital safety group, now lowers the score of hospitals where more than 5% of deliveries involve episiotomies. It’s a standard the vast majority of U.S. hospitals are struggling to meet, with many hospitals at 20% or higher.

According to Leapfrog, “institutional norms” are the biggest obstacle to hospitals and physicians adapting—something Dennis Buchanan, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN, says works in St. Jude’s favor. “We have just one institutional norm: How can we offer the best possible start to new moms and babies?”

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