Physicians flag safety concerns for C-sections outside of Florida hospitals

Medical experts are voicing safety concerns over a new Florida law that allows physicians to perform cesarean sections outside of hospitals, The New York Times reported June 15. 

The legislation is part of a package of healthcare bills signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in March. Under the law, SB 7016, standalone birth centers that receive a new designation as an "advanced birth center" will be permitted to perform "planned low-risk cesarean deliveries." Women's Care Enterprises, a private equity-backed physicians group, also lobbied in support of the bill, according to KFF Health News.

Proponents of the measure say it will increase access to care and help reduce maternity care deserts in the state. However, critics contend it will pose serious safety risks for pregnant patients and could drive up C-section rates.

"There's no such thing as a low-risk C-section, and they should not be done outside of a hospital," Mary Mayhew, the chief executive of the Florida Hospital Association, told the Times

Medical experts have raised concerns that such centers may not be adequately equipped to respond to serious, sudden complications, which can quickly arise in previously low-risk patients.

"A pregnant patient who is considered low risk in one moment can suddenly need life-saving care in the next," Cole Greves, MD, Florida district chairman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Times. "Advanced birth centers, even with increased regulations, cannot guarantee the level of safety patients would receive within a hospital."

The law requires birthing centers to have at least one surgical suite and the ability to transfer patients to a hospital if needed, though it does not specify how close the hospital must be, according to the report. 

As C-section complications often require immediate intervention from various hospital teams and access to critical resources such as an intensive care unit and ventilators, care delays can be life-threatening, according to Nandini Raghuraman, MD, an assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Some experts have also expressed concerns that physicians at advanced birth centers might be motivated to perform more C-sections, as they are reimbursed at a higher rate than vagianal deliveries and are convenient to schedule in advance. 

Read the full article here.

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