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Hospitals watchdog finds high-risk deliveries inconsistent and lacking nation-wide

Under the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy isn't considered a
Under the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy isn't considered a "qualifying event" that justifies enrollment at any time.

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Three out of four hospitals are not meeting standards for high-risk childbirths according to a leading nonprofit watchdog, The Leapfrog Group.

Babies born with very low birthweight (less than 3 pounds, 4.91 ounces) are more likely to survive and thrive in intensive care units where staff have ample experience dealing with very vulnerable newborns, so Leapfrog advises mothers to choose hospitals with proven capacity for high-risk deliveries. In California, 25% of hospitals meet the Leapfrog standards for risky births. A significantly positive finding in the new data shows fewer hospitals performing early elective births. In California last year, the average rate of early elective delivers was 2.5 percent approximately - a whopping decrease from the 10 percent rate in 2011. More data strongly demonstrates early births pose greater risks to mother and child.

On another positive note, episiotomy rates are improving. Sixty‐five percent of hospitals achieved the target rate of 12 percent or less for episiotomies—a once routine incision made in the birth canal during childbirth that is now recommended only for a narrow set of cases.

What would it take for more hospitals to improve care for high-risk births?


Erica Mobley, senior manager of communications and development, The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit representing employers and other purchasers of health benefits advancing safety and quality in American hospitals.