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Induced Labor No Costlier than Spontaneous Labor

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 May 2019
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Image: A new study claims that inducing labor one week early benefits both healthcare systems and patients (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
Image: A new study claims that inducing labor one week early benefits both healthcare systems and patients (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
A new study calculates that inducing labor at 39 weeks costs healthcare systems the same as waiting for spontaneous labor.

Researchers at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, USA) and Intermountain Medical Center (IMC; Salt Lake City, UT, USA) conducted a multicenter study in the state of Utah involving 1,230 low-risk, nulliparous mothers, in order to measure actual cost differences to healthcare facilities between inducing labor one week early and waiting for spontaneous, natural labor. Among study participants, 608 women were induced at 39 weeks and 622 experienced spontaneous labor.

The results of the study confirmed that contrary to common belief, the increased cost accrued from women spending more time in the hospital after inducing labor is offset by cost saved from avoiding additional tests, visits and medications later in pregnancy, as well as serious health outcomes, such as preeclampsia. In addition, the researchers found that inducing labor at 39 weeks reduced the rate of Cesarean section in new mothers. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACPG), held during May 2019 in Nashville (TN, USA).

“We watched real patients as they went through the system to evaluate the actual costs for randomized patients for clinical outcomes. We found that the increase in cost from other parts of patient care cancel out those costs,” said lead author and study presenter Brett Einerson, MD, MPH, of the University of Utah. “This is a conclusion that is totally opposite of what we in obstetrics have assumed over the past 30 years. While the study is focused on Utah hospitals, the results are applicable across the country.”

“These results demonstrate the importance of considering cost in the medical decisions that we make,” said study co-author maternal fetal medicine physician Sean Esplin, MD, of Intermountain Healthcare. “This is a unique study that could only be accomplished in Utah. Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah are interested in providing the highest quality of care at the lowest price possible, so we are constantly tracking costs, which makes a study like this possible."

Related Links:
University of Utah
Intermountain Medical Center

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