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Florida becomes first state to allow women to get C-sections outside of hospitals

Florida becomes first state to allow women to get C-sections outside of hospitals
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Florida recently became the first state to allow cesarean sections (C-sections) to be performed outside of hospitals, as reported by KFF News.

New legislation enacted in March 2024 allows physicians to deliver babies — either naturally or via C-section — at “advanced birth centers.”

Women who are deemed at “low risk of complications” are eligible to receive these services in the clinics. 

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They will be able to stay overnight after the procedure.

A private equity-owned physicians’ group, Women’s Care Enterprises, was a proponent of this change, claiming the option would result in lower costs and a “homier birthing atmosphere,” as KFF reported.

Pregnant woman with doctor

Florida recently became the first state to allow cesarean sections to be performed outside of hospitals, as reported by KFF News. (iStock)

The move is also seen as a way to expand access to care, as some Florida hospitals have closed their maternity wards, KFF also reported.

Nearly 20% of Florida counties qualify as “maternity care deserts,” according to industry associations. 

Some industry experts and organizations, however, have expressed concerns about potential safety risks.

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“I think this is a dangerous idea,” Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, told Fox News Digital.

“A lot can go wrong with C-sections,” he warned. “We need in-hospital support, including anesthesia and the neonatal ICU, at our disposal.”

He added, “Even if it is OK 95% of the time, it is the other unpredictable 5% that I worry about.”

Pregnant woman on monitor

“I think this is a dangerous idea,” one doctor told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

Cole Greves, an Orlando perinatologist who chairs the Florida chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recognized that Florida is suffering from a shortage of maternity care, but echoed Siegel’s safety concerns.

“It is critical for patient safety to remain a top priority when seeking to improve maternal health care,” Greves said via email to Fox News Digital. 

“Even if it is OK 95% of the time, it is the other unpredictable 5% that I worry about.”

“A pregnant patient who is considered ‘low risk’ in one moment can suddenly need lifesaving care in the next. Advanced birth centers, even with increased regulation, cannot guarantee the level of safety that patients would receive within a hospital.”

Pregnant woman with doctor

The move is also seen as a way to expand access to care, as some Florida hospitals have closed their maternity wards. (iStock)

Mary Mayhew, CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, warned of the many risks associated with C-sections, such as hemorrhaging.

“We have serious concerns about the impact this model has on our collective efforts to improve maternal and infant health,” Mayhew said to KFF. 

“Our hospitals do not see this in the best interest of providing quality and safety in labor and delivery.”

As KFF News noted, “the Florida Hospital Association did not fight passage of the overall bill because it also included a major increase in the amount Medicaid pays hospitals for maternity care.”

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Florida state Sen. Gayle Harrell, the Republican who sponsored the bill, noted that birth centers will have to meet the same high standards for staffing, infection control and other aspects as those at outpatient surgery centers, KFF reported.

“Given where we are with the need, and maternity deserts across the state, this is something that will help us and help moms get the best care,” she said.

Woman in labor

As of 2022, 32.1% of live births in the U.S. were delivered via C-section, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (iStock)

As of 2022, 32.1% of live births in the U.S. were delivered via C-section, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

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That is approximately 22.5 out of every 100 live births.

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Health care professionals may recommend a C-section if the mother is having trouble progressing through labor, the baby is in distress or in a dangerous position, the mother is carrying multiple babies, the umbilical cord has prolapsed or there is a problem with the placenta, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

“A pregnant patient who is considered ‘low risk’ in one moment can suddenly need lifesaving care in the next.”

The procedure may also be advised if the mother has health issues that could make traditional delivery dangerous, or if she previously had a C-section.

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Fox News Digital reached out to the Florida Hospital Association and the Florida Department of Health requesting comment.

Melissa Rudy is health editor and a member of the lifestyle team at Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to melissa.rudy@fox.com.

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