Monday, January 26, 2015

Rural areas are cutting obstetrics services; cite insurance concerns related to new standards

Pregnant women in rural areas are having to travel farther to give birth, as more rural hospitals eliminate obstetrics services. From 1985 to 2000, the number of hospitals offering obstetrics services dropped by 23 percent, says a study by the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, John Lundy reports for the Duluth News Tribune. In 2008, only 6.4 percent of obstetrician–gynecologists practiced in rural areas, says The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Overall, 49 percent of U.S. counties lacked an OBGYN in 2010. (Best Places map)

In rural Minnesota, hospitals are being forced to cut obstetrics services, Lundy writes. Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital in Ely, Minn., announced last month that it is discontinuing obstetrics services this summer, and Cook County North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais, Minn. is expected to make a similar decision this week because of insurance concerns. The hospital averages 9.5 births per year.

"For Cook County's hospital, the tipping point came in the form of a report received in late October from Coverys, its professional liability insurer, said Kimber Wraalstad, the hospital's administrator," Lundy writes. "The hospital's level of obstetrics care falls short of current accepted standards in five areas, the report from Coverys found." The biggest problem is that guidelines established by ACOG say access to an emergency cesarean section must be available within 30 minutes. The nearest available C-sections from the Cook County hospital are 110 miles away in Duluth. (Read more)

No comments: