Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Study of private hospital births ignites debate:

An investigation has found tens of thousands of Australian women are undergoing unnecessary procedures while giving birth at private hospitals.
By Motherpedia
Date: September 11 2012
Editor Rating:

The study of 700,000 Australian women found those giving birth in a private hospital were much more likely to have some kind of surgical intervention.

The results have been labelled "horrifying" by leading midwifery experts, but obstetricians deny they are over-servicing women during child birth.

Hannah Dahlen, professor of midwifery at the University of Western Sydney and lead author of the study, told the ABC the study focused on a very low-risk population.

"We excluded anyone who was over the age of 34 and anyone under the age of 20, and anyone who had a medical complication, anyone who had an obstetric complication," she said.

"We excluded all pre-term birth, all babies that were overdue, and all babies that were too small or too big."

"We found that if you were having your first baby and were low risk and you were giving birth in a private hospital under a private obstetrician, your chances of a normal vaginal birth were 20 per cent less than in the public sector," Professor Dahlen said.

The National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG) says theMidwife survey misses point about the importance of mother and baby safety, and women shouldn’t be criticised because they choose to have their babies in private hospitals.

“The most important factor that concerns obstetricians is the safety and health of their patient and their unborn baby,” says President of NASOG, Dr Andrew Foote, a practising obstetrician in Canberra.

“We are concerned at the implications of a midwife-led survey of patients that seems to suggest pregnant women who opt for a private hospital birth have an increased risk of being unwittingly tricked into having unnecessary obstetric procedures.”

Dr Foote says many mothers-to-be who opt for specialist care do so because they have inherent risks such as being older or with a history of diabetes. He says the survey failed to ask patients why they needed medical intervention.

“Seventy per cent of complications during birth may happen suddenly without any warning.”

What do you think? Share your views on the survey findings below…

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