A study comparing outcomes for public and private hospital births was published in the Medical Journal of Australia in February.
It attracted dramatic headlines. “Public hospital births double risk for mother and baby, says report,” said the Age. “Babies die less often in private hospitals,” said the Australian. “Private hospital births safer than public: study,” from ABC News Online.
If you need reminding of the perils of relying on headlines, have a read of this indepth analysis of the study at Inside Story. It’s by Hannah Dahlen, the assoc prof of midwifery at UWS, and Sally Tracy, prof for women’s health, nursing and midwifery at the Royal Hospital for Women and UTS.
The story is not nearly as clearcut as the headlines – or the study’s authors – suggest. Dahlen and Tracy also make some points that should be of interest to the MJA’s editors and reviewers.