CHILDBIRTH: Hospital Stays Up by Half Day
New mothers are staying in the hospital after childbirth a half- day longer, on average, than they were in the early 1990s, according to a new CDC report. "The trend began even before a federal law requiring" 48-hour hospital stays went into effect, after a public outcry over so-called "drive-by deliveries." The CDC report notes that the average stay in 1980 was 3.2 days, which dropped to 1.7 days in 1995. By 1997, however, the average was back up to 2.1 days. In 1995, 1.4 million new mothers stayed fewer than 24 hours. But by 1997, only 951,000 mothers stayed fewer then 24 hours. Dr. Fredric Frigoletto, chief of obstetrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that before the laws, "patients were angry or upset," whereas now "it's mostly noticeable by the lack of discussion. Those that want to go home earlier are ready to go home. It's apparent they are and everybody feels comfortable, and we don't have to force people out that literally aren't ready to go" (Neergaard, AP/Boston Globe, 6/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.