How hospitals fared on Leapfrog's maternity measures amid COVID-19

Hospitals made significant improvements on reducing episiotomies and early elective deliveries during the pandemic, but cesarean sections among patients least likely to need them increased, according to newly released data from The Leapfrog Group

The patient safety group released findings from its "2023 Maternity Care Report" May 23. The report is based on data from Leapfrog's hospital survey from last year, which includes responses from more than 2,300 U.S. hospitals. 

Key findings:

  • The average rate of nulliparous, term, singleton, vertox C-sections — which refer to mothers with first-time pregnancies that have reached at least 37 weeks and have a single baby in the head-down position — increased during the pandemic. Less than half of reporting hospitals met the target of 23.6 percent or lower for NTSV C-sections, while over half met this benchmark in 2020. 
  • Hospitals made improvements in reducing episiotomies and early elective deliveries. For the first time, episiotomies fell below Leapfrog's standard of 5 percent. Meanwhile, early elective deliveries declined from more than 17 percent in 2010 to less than 2 percent in 2022. 

"We know C-sections put mothers at greater risks for complications and should never be performed without a full discussion of short- and long-term risks; hospital leadership should take a hard look at this report and their numbers to start making actionable change that improves outcomes for mothers," Elliott Main, MD, chair of The Leapfrog Group's expert panel, said in a news release. 

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