Picking maternity ward has a serious side

As a family physician who delivers babies, I read the article regarding competition among maternity wards ("Baby Battle," Sept. 25). Although the focus of the short piece was clearly on the style of local labor and delivery facilities, it seems remiss to neglect the quality of care as a major influence in a woman's choice of where to deliver.

A savvy pregnant medical consumer will not only view the "walls with warm, earthy colors" and hardwood floors during her tour, she will ask relevant questions regarding the hospital's cesarean section rate, support of breast-feeding, and use of episiotomy. These are standard quality of care measures in obstetrics and should be readily available to a patient who asks.

A discussion with her primary care physician can help her decide which other questions may be relevant to her unique circumstances and medical issues. Answers to these questions concerning the quality of care will influence her health and that of her baby far longer than the aesthetics of a hospital's labor and delivery areas.

Dr. Nancy Beth Barr, Rosedale

The writer is medical director of the family health center at Franklin Square Hospital.

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