What is the incidence of episiotomy measure?

An episiotomy is a surgical cut or incision made to enlarge the opening of the vagina during childbirth. The incidence of episiotomy measure is the rate at which women who deliver vaginally have episiotomies. A lower hospital episiotomy rate is better. According to the Leapfrog Group, hospitals should aim for a rate of less than 5%.

What does the incidence of episiotomy measure mean for me and my baby?

Episiotomies add another element to the healing process after labor and childbirth and can have side effects. Episiotomies were commonly used in the past but today we know that in many cases they can pose harm without offering any benefit. Episiotomies are closed with stitches after birth but the healing process can be painful and side effects sometimes occur. Possible side effects include infection, bruising, bleeding and future problems with incontinence.

Why do hospital episiotomy rates matter?

Episiotomy rates vary by hospital and are largely based on a hospital’s practices and policies. So the hospital at which you give birth can raise or lower your chances of having an episiotomy. 

What can I do with this information?

If you want to lower your chance of having an episiotomy, you can look at the episiotomy rate at the hospital where you plan to give birth. If you have concerns, discuss them with your doctor or midwife and the hospital care team before you give birth. 

What does the goal mean?

In 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a recommendation against the routine use of episiotomies and in 2008, the National Quality Forum also endorsed limiting the routine use of them. The Leapfrog Group has tracked hospitals’ rate of episiotomy since 2012, and in 2015, with the guidance of its maternity care expert panel http://www.leapfroggroup.org/about/expert-panelists, reduced its target rate to 5% http://www.leapfroggroup.org/ratings-reports/rate-episiotomy.