Caesareans used because Irish doctors fear being sued

A fear of being sued is one of the main reasons obstetricians perform caesarean sections, according to the most comprehensive study of their views conducted.

The review found that financial benefits for the hospital and making doctors’ live more convenient were other contributing factors, along with a woman’s preference for a C-section over a vaginal birth.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin conducted a review of 34 international studies that contained input from more than 9,000 midwives and obstetricians between 1992 and 2016. The scientists said that the research provided a detailed understanding of factors that influence the decision to perform a C-section.

In Ireland, the proportion of babies delivered by caesarean has more than quadrupled over the past 30 years, from 7 per cent of deliveries in 1984 to 30 per cent in 2014.

C-section rates are increasing worldwide despite health authorities recommending a vaginal birth as the preferred method because it results in fewer complications and a shorter hospital stay. Women who give birth vaginally also have a lower hospital readmission rate than those who have a C-section.

Sunita Panda, lead author of the study, said that obstetricians were more inclined than midwives to support a woman’s request for a C-section. “This was interesting because other studies have concluded that this had a small effect but when we analysed studies together, the research showed preference was a significant determinant,” she said.

A 2016 study by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that a rise in the use of caesarean sections was contributing to increased risks and costs. The number of mothers with risk factors, such as being older or overweight, has often been cited as the main cause of the increase.

Ms Panda said she wanted to conduct the research because there was a limited explanation of why the rise had continued.

The research was published on Friday in the journal Plos One. It was conducted as part of a study funded by the Health Research Board.

Author: Catherine Sanz, Ireland Reporter
Source: July 31 2018, 12:01am,
The Times