California Cesarean and VBAC Rates


California is lightyears ahead of most other states when it comes to maternity data collection, contextualization and publication.


Cal Hospital Compare + Yelp (formerly CHART) has been renamed a few times over the years but has always featured up-to-date maternity data. One feature worthy of exploration and replication in other states: VBAC Policy reporting. The Hospital Quality Institute surveys all birthing hospitals in the state for a Yes/No as to whether VBAC is routinely made available at their hospital.

This information is on Yelp as a result of a partnership with California Health Care Foundation and adds the element of consumer reviews of facilities and satisfaction with their experiences. It is the only existing option for patients to receive up-to-date data and read reviews on the same page.

UCSF Birthing Center’s Yelp page selected as an example.


CMQCC’s Maternal Data Center

The California Maternal Data Center was launched in 2012 and sets the standard for robust, near real-time data collection. Two other states—Oregon and Washington—now have hospitals using the MDC.

For many performance measurement projects, people can get away with using what is called “administrative data,” or discharge data. However, some quality and performance metrics require that these data be linked with birth certificate and hospital records in order to understand more about the patient. All of this has to be completely deidentified in order to comply with HIPAA. The MDC devised a secure, HIPAA-compliant system of delivering rapid cycle data and near real-time feedback to hospitals for the purpose of helping them do quality improvement work.


Consumer Reports + California Department of Insurance’s

This project lives on the Consumer Reports site. The site uses best practices to bring accessible data on quality and cost to consumers online. Using multiple data sources, this partnership makes childbirth shoppable for people intending to give birth in a California hospital, which adds up to approximately 500,000 people annually. Read an updated report on the California Medical Price and Quality Transparency Initiative.


California Office of Statewide Planning and Development

Hospital discharge data sets are publicly available to download for free. No IRB approval needed, no intermediary or data broker, no password protection. You can find aggregated data on AHRQ quality indicators conveniently available to download in Excel or as a PDF.


Leapfrog Group

Additional maternity measures are voluntarily reported by California hospitals and available on the Leapfrog Group’s website.


Updated December 2017.



Disclosure: Site owner has been on the Steering Committee of the California Maternal Data Center since 2013 and has been working for several years on multiple projects at Consumer Reports on grants funded by the California Health Care Foundation.. is separate from that work.