With its first-ever edition of the “Best Hospitals for Maternity,” U.S. News & World Report hopes to better inform expecting families after more than 30 years of evaluating the best health systems in America “a report
U.S. News reported that 237 hospitals nationwide provide maternity services, out of a total of 2,700.
While health experts applaud the report’s focus on maternity care, some critics argue that it paints an incomplete picture.
Scheduled early deliveries, C-section rates in low-risk people, newborn complications, rate of exclusive breast milk feeding, and option for vaginal births after cesarean were all considered in the study.
Although services like private rooms or suites, childbirth classes, and valet parking were mentioned in the report, they were not included in the overall performance score.
“All families deserve to know how hospitals perform,” said U.S. News & World Report managing editor and chief of health analysis Ben Harder. “We hope that by launching this initiative, hospitals in general – and particularly underperforming hospitals – will be pushed to redouble their efforts to provide the same high-quality care.”
However, the survey was limited to uncomplicated pregnancies and did not stratify data by race, ethnicity, or household income.
“We’re grateful when there’s any attention on maternal health,” said Dr. Brenna Hughes, vice chair of obstetrics and quality and division chief of maternal-fetal at Duke University, which was one of North Carolina’s high-performing hospitals.
In addition, the list is far from complete. Only about 20% of the hospitals that offered maternity services responded when U.S. News contacted them.
According to Min Hee Seo, a health data scientist at U.S. News, the publication is working to include more hospitals and maternal health data in the next report.
“We’re going to put more effort into maternity health equity, increasing feedback, and providing more information to patients and expecting families,” she said. “We’re going to concentrate on smaller hospitals or those in maternity deserts so that they aren’t penalized by larger populations in the area.”
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The report was notable for omitting data on maternal mortality and morbidity. The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are expected to release data on this later this year, but experts expect it to be incomplete because hospitals were not required to provide that information.
“To be honest and fair, hospitals are under a lot of stress right now, and I know that has caused a lot of quality initiatives to be delayed.” “Dr. Elliott K. Main, medical director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine, explained the findings.
Despite having at least one hospital that participated in the U.S. News survey, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia had no high-performing hospitals.
“Many hospitals struggle with transparency, especially in certain parts of the country, and those are the same parts of the country with very poor outcomes,” Main said.
California has made obstetrics a priority by demanding transparency from hospitals for the past five years, he said, and maternity care has improved. The U.S. News report is an important first step toward achieving national transparency.
“Doing these kinds of reports for obstetrics has taken a long time,” says the author “Main remarked. “In California, we’ve discovered that the lighter you shine on obstetric outcomes, the faster they improve.”
A grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare has helped USA TODAY cover health and patient safety. The Masimo Foundation does not contribute to the editorial process.
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