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  Health Highlights: May 8, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

First Senate Hearing for HHS Secretary Nominee

The first of two Senate committee confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary will be held Thursday.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell will appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. At a date yet to be decided, she will testify before the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote on Burwell's nomination, the Associated Press reported.

Burwell was picked by Obama to replace outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation last month. Burwell recently served as Obama's budget director.

If confirmed in her new role, Burwell will assume responsibility for the health care overhaul. Prior to Thursday's hearing, she received support from the health insurance industry. Burwell is "uniquely qualified to lead HHS during this critical time," Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement, the AP reported.

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Wide Variation in Hospital C-Section Rates: Study

There are large differences in the numbers of unnecessary cesarean section births done by hospitals in the United States, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at C-section rates for low-risk deliveries at more than 1,500 hospitals in 22 states and found wide variations, even between hospitals in the same communities or areas, Consumer Reports said.

For example, the rate of C-sections for low-risk deliveries was more than 50 percent at Los Angeles Community Hospital, compared with 15 percent at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles and 11 percent at Western Medical Center Anaheim.

In El Paso, Texas, rates of C-sections for low risk deliveries were 37 percent at Sierra Medical Center and 15 percent at University Medical Center of El Paso. In Denver, Colo., the rates were 20 percent at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and 8 percent at Denver Health Medical Center, according to Consumer Reports.

The researchers also found that it can be hard to find information about hospitals' C-section rates.

"We think it's time those hidden numbers are brought to light," Dr. John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health, said in news release from the group. "How you deliver your baby should be determined by the safest delivery method, not which hospital you choose."

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=687652

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Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
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