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Hidden costs associated with the universal application of risk management in maternity care
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by M McIntyre, Ysanne Chapman, K Francis
This paper presents a critical analysis of risk management in maternity care and the hidden costs associated with the practice in healthy women. Issues of quality and safety are driving an increased emphasis by health services on risk management in maternity care. Medical risk in pregnancy is known to benefit 15% or less of all pregnancies. Risk management applied to the remaining 85% of healthy women results in the management of risk in the absence of risk. The health cost to mothers and babies and the economic burden on the overall health system of serious morbidity has been omitted from calculations comparing costs of uncomplicated caesarean birth and uncomplicated vaginal birth. The understanding that elective caesarean birth is cost-neutral when compared to a normal vaginal birth has misled practitioners and contributed to over use of the practice. For the purpose of informing the direction of maternity service policy it is necessary to expose the effect the overuse of medical intervention has on the overall capacity of the healthcare system to absorb the increasing demand for operating theatre resources in the absence of clinical need.