Estimating the Financial Impact of Reducing Primary Cesareans

Author Department

Ob/Gyn; Patient Care Services; Healthcare Quality; Nursing

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date




Preventing a primary cesarean birth in nulliparous women with term, singleton, vertex pregnancies (NTSV) is recognized as an important strategy to reduce maternal morbidities and risks to the newborn. Multiple professional organizations are supporting approaches to safely reduce NTSV cesarean rates, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) is leading one such effort as part of its Healthy Birth Initiative: the Reducing Primary Cesareans (RPC) Learning Collaborative. The objective of this study is to estimate the cost savings of a decrease in NTSV cesareans at one hospital participating in the RPC Learning Collaborative.


All women giving birth at Baystate Medical Center from October 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017, and their newborns were identified by Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Group (N = 1747). Total hospital costs were calculated using a resource consumption profile for each of 6 groups: women who had vaginal birth, primary cesarean, and repeat cesarean and their linked newborns. A model was developed to estimate cost differences for the first and second births and overall cost savings.


For the NTSV birth, total costs for primary cesarean and newborn care were $5989 higher compared with vaginal birth and newborn care. For the subsequent birth, repeat cesareans and newborn care were $4250 higher compared with vaginal birth. In 2016, 69 primary cesareans were prevented, for an actual cost savings of $413,241. Projecting the prevention of 66 subsequent repeat cesareans would result in additional savings of $280,500, for a total savings of $693,741. Apgar score at 5 minutes and length of stay remained unchanged.


Participation in ACNM's RPC Learning Collaborative led to significant savings in hospital costs during the first year without affecting quality metrics. This cost comparison model could be replicated by other hospitals involved in cesarean reduction endeavors.