The United States leads developed countries in the number of moms who die as a result of childbirth. As maternal mortality continues to decline in countries with similar high quality medical care, the US rate of maternal mortality has jumped. This discouraging news is not getting any better.
In the US, the media reports that between 700 to 900 women die, and about 50,000 are injured each year from what could be considered preventable or treatable complications of pregnancy. Different studies supported by USA Today, NPR, and ProPublica take a deep dive into the problem of maternal medical care in this country and come to the stark conclusion that American hospitals are failing to protect many moms when they give birth.
Reports Suggest Multiple Reasons For Increased Rate Of Maternal Injury
Each of these studies reports that the rate of maternal injury is significantly higher for African-American women, women who are low-income, and those who live in rural areas. Given that, the overall number of women dying of poor medical care continues to rise in this country among all socio-economic levels. These reports suggest that reasons for the rise include:
- Gross lack of medical attention to maternal care after delivery: This can include failure to monitor the amount of blood lost during and after delivery, failure to monitor for hemorrhage, and failure to follow up on known complications from high blood pressure (preeclampsia) in pregnancy, like stroke, among others.
- Women are waiting until later to have children: Older maternal age means a greater likelihood of complications at childbirth.
- Unplanned pregnancy: Women who have unplanned pregnancy may not have had proper medical care to control chronic medical conditions that can impact their baby and their own survival after childbirth.
- Poor longer term medical care: With heightened attention to care of babies, moms are sometimes treated summarily, failing to receive standardized and important health care and follow up after giving birth. As infant mortality has dropped, maternal mortality has risen.
What Is Being Done?
These reports indicate protocols to identify and treat maternal health emergencies. Despite the growing death and injury, the profound problem of good medical care for moms has not been comprehensively addressed. Notes Dr. Neel Shah, vice president of a group called March for Moms, “The opioid epidemic is in the news cycle literally every day. We think this is an issue that touches enough American families that it ought to get the same attention.”
Some agencies, hospitals, and legislators are responding. In California, The Stanford-driven initiative California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative is a collaborative organization aimed at “ending preventable morbidity, mortality and racial disparities in California maternity care.” The group has identified two common complications that put new moms at high risk, even weeks after pregnancy. Those conditions are hemorrhage and preeclampsia.
Toolkits developed by the group have lowered maternal morbidity for hemorrhage in new moms by 21 percent for hospitals who signed up for the resource. Hospitals that do not use the resources and steps advised in the toolkit have seen their death rate for maternal hemorrhage drop by only one percent.
Childbirth is always dangerous, but it is more so when proper medical care is not offered or delivered. If you suffer a birth injury, speak with a skilled medical malpractice law firm.
Work With Experienced Malpractice Attorneys If You Suffer Medical Mistake
When the care you receive is medically negligent or below an expected standard of care, the Baltimore birth injury lawyers at Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. can help. Call us at 410-234-1000 or contact us online today to schedule a free, confidential consultation at our offices in Baltimore, Maryland, or in Washington, D.C.