Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hospitals' Maternity Ward Waste

I have recently signed up for Google Alerts. It sends you an email with a list of all of the news articles, or blogs that have been posted on the web with any words of your choosing. You can choose how often you get an email updating you with all of the articles. It has sure cut down on my research time and allows me to skim through the few lines they give to see if I want to read the article. I got this article below today in an email. I couldn't have said it better! You can read it below or you can click here to go to the articles page.

"Let me count the ways. The ways that hospitals waste money.

First we'll take a look see at the No. 1 diagnosis using up the most hospital beds nationwide. It's not scary, it's rarely life-threatening, it's not even an illness. It's childbirth and, for the most part, the beds are filled with healthy women giving birth to healthy babies.

But due to a phenomenon called the "fear of imminent trouble," doctors anticipate complications because they have seen birthing tragedies in the past. Often, they jump in too early and cause the very complications they are bent on avoiding, making them more susceptible to imminent trouble the next go-round.

They induce labor with medications that increase pain, leading to the need for an epidural, which delays labor. Once the fetus fails to progress, C-section is likely. The World Health Organization says C-sections should occur in about 10 percent of all births but the United States boasts a 29 percent rate, causing us to spend $2.5 billion a year more than necessary. We utilize epidurals for 85 percent of all births, with a 23 percent rate of complication and run an IV drip on 86 percent of the women when an evidence-based approach would suggest IVs in 0 percent of the cases. Zero.

Ultrasound imaging is the second most reliable method for measuring the length of the pregnancy. The most reliable way is to ask the mother the date of her last period. That's free. Ultrasound certainly isn't. But back to the birthing miracle.

Fetal monitoring is used on all births when studies of 58,000 women showed a simple stethoscope to be as reliable. There are no studies showing that routine fetal monitoring improves birth outcomes. That's money down the drain. A lot of money.

Birthing beds, which cost thousands of dollars, serve to mechanize normal human functions. Squatting is free and safer but it doesn't allow for an obstetrician's comfort (the word obstetrician means to stand in front of).

Midwives, who allow squatting, are used in 75 percent of births in Australia, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries. The rate is even higher in Canada. In fact the 28 countries with the lowest maternal mortality rate all use midwives. The United States is 37th, with 90 percent of our births attended by highly trained surgeons.

Then we have mandatory bilirubin testing on all babies when a transcutaneous bilirubin meter could identify borderline levels and trigger a venous test if necessary. Although all Monterey County hospitals use the less expensive testing, many hospitals do not.

This wastes tens of millions a year. We do mandatory hearing testing to find the 33 infants born each day with hearing loss in the United States. With 11,000 babies born every day, that's a lot of testing for a rare condition we can do little for in the first place.

So that's childbirth. If we do that with a non-disease, just think how mucked up we get with the "real" stuff. I'd love to tell you about it, but I'm out of room. You'll have to ask your doctors. They know. They also know that if they don't waste the money, we'll sue them if something goes wrong. Just ask them, they'll tell you all about it."


Anonymous said...

While I agree with ost of your comments. I disagree with your assesment of hearing testing. I have a friend whose daughter was diagnosed with moderate to severe loss following this test. Today at 14 months she has been wearing hearing aids for almost a year and is meeting all her developmental goals. Without early testing her parents could still not know of her special needs, causing needless frustration and speech delays when all she needs is a little extra help...

The Eckerts said...

I did not write this, it's an article I copied and pasted. I have the link to it in my post.

There will always be children who become statistics, but this article was saying was that they spend so much money on tests when they don't even have any signs that the child might have what they are testing for.

It's just one of a bunch of examples that shows the over cautious efforts they take that in the end just wastes money for most. With a price tag of 10's of millions of dollars each year spent on this, it could be spent elsewhere.

If parents want to have all the tests done that should be up to them, not be mandatory. This article was stating that it's mandatory and therefore raising the hospital bills that much more for the parents and insurance companies.