Transparency in Maternity Care

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In the US, it is nearly impossible to access information about the quality of an individual health care provider or institution.The 2001 Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, underscores transparency as one of ten key steps necessary to overall health care system improvement. As national quality improvement initiatives continue to grow, maternity care must be included in this movement. The US spends more on maternity services than any other country in the world, yet we have the highest rates of infant death of all developed nations .1 The US also has one of the lowest vaginal birth rates in the world even though cesarean section carries greater risks to mother and baby. Despite emphasis on evidence-based medicine, cost-containment, and patient safety, the overuse of medical technology continues to rise without concomitant improvements in maternal or infant outcomes. Indeed, studies show that the inappropriate imposition of procedures, drugs, tests, and restrictions increase maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. Although institutes, universities, and foundations are engaging in research or developing projects to increase health care transparency, currently, no significant consumer-led national effort is underway to share health care or maternity care information. A mechanism to share, systematically track, and retrieve up-to-date information about the quality of care received would equip consumers with the information necessary to make informed decisions and enable individuals to play a larger role in determining their care.


We are dedicated to improving maternity care for all women. We will do this by 1) creating a higher level of transparency in maternity care so that women will be better able to make informed decisions about where and with whom to birth and 2) providing practitioners and hospitals with information that will aid in evaluating and improving quality of care.

The Birth Survey

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