Thursday, August 20, 2015

Caesarian sections can save lives, but also waste lives and money

Source: The Economist
There are many things that can be said about this data. Perhaps the first is that maternal mortality is unconscionably high in the developing world. In many rich countries it ranges from 1 to 10 per 100,000 live births; in poor countries it tends to range from 100 to 1000 per 100,000 live births. The maternal mortality in Chad is 1000 times higher than that which is attainable.

Note that the lowest maternal mortality is achieved with about one in five births by Caeserean section. Yet there are countries with higher maternal mortality rates that see half of all births by Caeserian. Now I don't really want to intervene if private patients and their ethical doctors choose to have an unnecessary Caeserian, pay the costs, and accept the added risk. I do object to policies that encourage families to choose a more expensive, higher risk procedure, and I do object to physicians finding financial incentives to encourage patients to have unneeded surgery.

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