For the second year in a row, Lompoc Valley Medical Center was recognized for surpassing a federal goal aimed at reducing Cesarean births for first-time moms with low-risk pregnancies. LVMC was among the 111 California hospitals that met or surpassed a federal target for that goal, according to the California Health and Human Services Agency.
The agency announced the achievement awards to hospitals on behalf of Smart Care California, a coalition of public and private health care purchasers that collectively purchase or manage care for more than 16 million people statewide - or 40 percent of all Californians.
To receive the award, a hospital must achieve a C-Section rate of 23.9 percent or lower for low-risk, first-birth deliveries. LVMC's rate was 18.7.
To respond to a rapid rise in unnecessary C-sections across the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adopted the Healthy People 2020 target of reducing nationwide C-section rates for low- risk, first-births to 23.9 percent.
Research finds that after two decades of annual increases, there has been progress in reducing the state's low-risk first birth C-section rate. "The decline in California's rate for low-risk, first birth C-sections will lead to healthier babies and mothers," said CHHS Secretary Diana Dooley. "Thanks to the hospitals and their staff for their hard work in achieving this measurable progress."
While life-saving in some circumstances, unnecessary C-sections can pose serious risks to mothers-higher rates of hemorrhage, transfusions, infection and blood clots-and babies-higher rates of infection, respiratory complications and neonatal intensive care unit stays, said LVMC Quality Improvement Director Melissa DeBacker. LVMC Perinatal Services Director Melinda DeHoyos said the staff continually educates patients on the importance of avoiding unnecessary C-sections.
"The OB staff, both physicians and nurses, know the potential risks associated with an unnecessary cesarean section, therefore, we do not schedule cesarean sections unless medically necessary," DeHoyos said. "Our staff remains aware of the need to minimize unnecessary cesarean sections in order to promote the best possible outcome for our patients, their babies, and the community. I am proud of our department. We have worked very hard to ensure we meet this Healthy People Goal 2020 for a second year. "
Lompoc Valley Medical Center is part of the California Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (CalHIIN), a group of hospitals collaborating and sharing best practices for patient care and safety. As such, the center put into place measures to limit inductions prior to 39 weeks unless medically necessary, and will not schedule C-Sections prior to 39 weeks in order to reach improved health outcomes.