The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the New Jersey Hospital Association are partners in a Perinatal Collaborative that helps hospitals work together to improve quality and safety in maternity care. In January of 2011 the Collaborative convened a VBAC Task Force representing obstetricians, midwives, nurses, hospital administrators, women’s health advocates and state experts. The Task Force divided the complex question of how to provide quality VBAC care into three tasks: fill in important gaps in our knowledge about the risks and benefits of VBAC; reorient educational approaches to be more understandable and more balanced; and determine how many maternity hospitals in New Jersey meet feasible criteria for safe practice of VBAC. After a full year of study and deliberation, the Task Force has produced a Vision Statement that identifies the key next steps toward reviving the practice of VBAC, steps that emphasize safety and patient choice. Their report illustrates the value of the Department’s most valued principles and tools—sharing data, promoting transparency, and empowering the consumer to make informed health care choices.
Going forward, this Vision Statement should be valuable to several audiences. Professional societies and advocacy groups who have a stake in educating providers and consumers about VBAC will appreciate the new data on safety outcomes and their implications for informed choice. Healthcare delivery systems and health insurance payers that want to align VBAC with quality improvement will learn from the safety data and from the assessment of New Jersey’s obstetric care resources. We congratulate the VBAC Task Force on their efforts, and strongly urge all members of the maternity care community to move forward on the issues they have identified.
The full report is here [pdf 1m].