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BMJ Open 2:e001723 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001723
  • Reproductive medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology
    • Research

Rates of obstetric intervention among low-risk women giving birth in private and public hospitals in NSW: a population-based descriptive study

  1. Charlene Thornton1
  1. 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Family and Community Health Research Group, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales
  2. 2Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Centre for Newborn Care, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Department of Maternity, Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Hannah Grace Dahlen; Dahlen h.dahlen{at}uws.edu.au
  • Received 30 June 2012
  • Accepted 2 August 2012
  • Published 10 September 2012

Abstract

Objectives To compare the risk profile of women giving birth in private and public hospitals and the rate of obstetric intervention during birth compared with previous published rates from a decade ago.

Design Population-based descriptive study.

Setting New South Wales, Australia.

Participants 691 738 women giving birth to a singleton baby during the period 2000 to 2008.

Main outcome measures Risk profile of women giving birth in public and private hospitals, intervention rates and changes in these rates over the past decade.

Results Among low-risk women rates of obstetric intervention were highest in private hospitals and lowest in public hospitals. Low-risk primiparous women giving birth in a private hospital compared to a public hospital had higher rates of induction (31% vs 23%); instrumental birth (29% vs 18%); caesarean section (27% vs 18%), epidural (53% vs 32%) and episiotomy (28% vs 12%) and lower normal vaginal birth rates (44% vs 64%). Low-risk multiparous women had higher rates of instrumental birth (7% vs 3%), caesarean section (27% vs 16%), epidural (35% vs 12%) and episiotomy (8% vs 2%) and lower normal vaginal birth rates (66% vs 81%). As interventions were introduced during labour, the rate of interventions in birth increased. Over the past decade these interventions have increased by 5% for women in public hospitals and by over 10% for women in private hospitals. Among low-risk primiparous women giving birth in private hospitals 15 per 100 women had a vaginal birth with no obstetric intervention compared to 35 per 100 women giving birth in a public hospital.

Conclusions Low-risk primiparous women giving birth in private hospitals have more chance of a surgical birth than a normal vaginal birth and this phenomenon has increased markedly in the past decade.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

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