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Unnecessary C-sections cause concern among patient advocates

Cesarean section, as readers know, is an alternative way of delivering a baby which is sometimes utilized as a last resort in emergency cases where a normal vaginal delivery becomes complicated. In other cases, C-sections are planned in advance at the discretion of the physician. Cesarean section deliveries, according to the Mayo Clinic, carry risks to both the baby and the mother. For the baby, there is an increased risk of breathing problems and surgical injury, and for the mother, there is the risk of inflammation and infection, increased bleeding, anesthesia reactions, blood clots, and additional risks for future pregnancies.

For women who face risks in a vaginal delivery, the risks of a C-section may be appropriate, but for women who are healthy and don't face significant risks in a vaginal delivery, undergoing a C-section may not be the best decision, even if it is more convenient. Whether or not a C-section is ultimately performed in cases where it isn't necessary should, of course, never be solely the decision of the physician, but according to a recent report by Consumer Reports, the likelihood of having an unnecessary C-section recommended by a physician is greater at some health care institutions than others. 

According to the report, the rate of C-sections for low-risk deliveries varies widely nationwide, with numbers as low as 4 percent and as high as 57 percent. The reasons for the variation are not completely understood, but do present something of a concern for patient advocates.

Women who suffer harm because of an unnecessary C-section may or may not be able to pursue the responsible physician for medical malpractice. It really depends on the case, particularly whether the physician was actually in breach of a recognized standard of care. Women who suffer significant harm from an unnecessary C-section should at least consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney to have their case evaluated. From there, it can be determine what might be the most effective way for them to reach some measure of justice. 

Source: Consumer Reports, "What hospitals don't want you to know about C-sections," May 2014. 

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