Rates of obstetric intervention among low-risk women giving birth in private and public hospitals in NSW: a population-based descriptive study

Women Childbirth Obstetrics and gynaecology Australia New South Wales Great Britain

This journal article looks into the rising rate of women having obstetric intervention during low risk births compared with the previous decade. In Australia, the national statistics reveal that 34% of women giving birth in 2009 elected private status, with 30% of women giving birth in private hospitals directly under private obstetric care. The remaining women were public patients and received a combination of midwifery and medical care in public hospitals, with around 4% of privately insured women also giving birth in a public hospital. At a national level the intervention rates in childbirth, such as caesarean section, are significantly higher in the private sector (43% vs 28%) and the rates of normal vaginal birth significantly lower (43% vs 62%). The overall caesarean section rate in Australia (32%) is significantly higher than the OECD average of 25.7% of births. Despite the rising intervention rates over the past decade the perinatal death rate has not shown a corresponding decline. There is also growing concern that the short-term and long-term morbidity associated with major obstetric interventions such as caesarean may not be insignificant for the mother and the baby.

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