Effect of departmental policies on cesarean delivery rates: a community hospital experience

Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Jun;91(6):1013-8. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(98)00077-5.


Objective: During 1994, our department adopted several strategies in an attempt to decrease our cesarean delivery rates. This study evaluates the effect of these changes on our cesarean delivery rates.

Methods: We studied data of women who delivered at our community hospital obstetric unit over a period of 6 years, from January 1, 1991, to December 31, 1996. During 1994, our department adopted labor management and cesarean delivery guidelines, with review of every cesarean delivery that did not meet guidelines and confidential individual feedback; established 24-hour in-house coverage; and attempted to achieve the goal of an annual cesarean delivery rate of less than 15%. These data were evaluated by chi2 analysis. Women who delivered in the first 3 years (group A) were compared with those who delivered in the second 3 years (group B) (ie, when the changes occurred). P < .05 was considered significant.

Results: Groups A and B shared similar demographic characteristics. The total cesarean delivery rate decreased from 22.5% (group A) to 18.6% (group B) (P = .001), whereas the primary cesarean delivery rate decreased from 13.5% to 10.6% (P = .001) and the repeat cesarean delivery rate decreased from 9.0% to 7.9% (P = .03). The proportion of women who received oxytocin and regional anesthesia and underwent vacuum-assisted deliveries increased (P < .001), whereas perinatal mortality and morbidity did not change.

Conclusion: The cesarean delivery rate safely decreased. These data suggest the importance of the commitment of attending physicians to a lower cesarean delivery rate, of service improvements, and of detailed feedback.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Community / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Organizational Policy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Utilization Review