The New Jersey Department of Health released surgical/cesarean birth rates by hospital among women considered at low risk for birth complications. The department’s data reveals that too many unnecessary surgical births are performed in the state.
The national target for these surgical procedures is 23.9 per 100 live births and New Jersey’s rate is well above at 30.3 per 100 live births in 2016. Within their own facilities, only 8 out of 49 New Jersey birthing hospitals meet the benchmark, according to the DOH.
“Our goal is to make New Jersey the safest place in the United States to give birth,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy in a statement. “Through our statewide Nurture NJ campaign, we are working with the leadership of our hospitals and increasing awareness around this issue so that we can reduce unnecessary cesarean sections and improve maternal health outcomes for all New Jersey women,” Murphy said.
Last month, the department shared with each birthing hospital their individual rates and offered evidence-based clinical strategies to reduce surgical births.
Leaders from birthing hospitals have formally committed to the commissioner of health to work to achieve cesarean birth rates for low-risk women of 23.9 percent or lower at their hospitals by Dec. 31, 2021.
Cesarean births are a major surgery that increases the likelihood of birth complications, such as maternal bleeding, infections and blood clots,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. “While these procedures can save lives, too many women in our state are experiencing preventable c-sections, which are putting them at unnecessary risk for injury or death.”
The department has launched a new New Jersey Maternal Data Center website, which includes the data released today, information on why it is important to avoid surgical births and resources related to birth outcome improvements.
“Today’s launch represents the first data to action release through the New Jersey Maternal Data Center and the New Jersey Maternal Care Quality Collaborative,” said Elnahal. “Nurture NJ and the Department are focused on sharing high-quality data in order to drive improvements.”
In summer 2019, the department will release additional data as part of its statutory requirement under P.L. 2018, c.82 to annually publish the New Jersey Report Card of Hospital Maternity Care. The public data dashboard will include surgical birth rates, complication rates, and severe maternal morbidity (SMM) data.
According to the DOH, low-risk cesareans sections are used as a measure for maternal health care—specifically, births that are among first-time mothers delivering one baby in the head-first presentation.
The data released is based on New Jersey Hospital Discharge Data Collection System and birth record data.