In California, Where You Deliver Your Baby Matters

Two women in California are having a baby for the first time. They are both low risk, having uneventful pregnancies. But how they will deliver their baby -- whether they'll have a c-section, for example -- depends dramatically on the hospital each woman chooses when she delivers.

The California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce, or CHART, crunched the numbers and found wide and, frankly, stunning variation in the rates of four common procedures related to delivery and newborn care: c-section, episiotomy, breastfeeding and vaginal birth after c-section.

The Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation created this infographic to illustrate what CHART found:

(Courtesy: California HealthCare Foundation)
(Courtesy: California HealthCare Foundation)

CHCF has further taken the data and mapped the state's highest and lowest performing hospitals. (The map does not include all hospitals in California.) Almost all of the 33 high-performing hospitals (88 percent) are in Northern California and include many Kaiser hospitals, San Francisco General, Stanford and Sutter Santa Rosa, to name just a few.

All of the 12 low-performing hospitals are in Southern California and include Citrus Valley Medical Center and Garfield Medical Center.

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One note -- CHCF says they included the VBAC rate because it is one of the measures used to define performance, even though the infographic focused on women delivering for the first time.  CHCF explains its metrics this way: "'High performing' is defined as three or more Superior or Above Average scores and no Average, Below Average, or Poor scores on the four maternity measures available on CalQualityCare.org. 'Low performing' is defined as three or more Below Average or Poor scores on the four maternity measures.