Preventable Maternal Deaths During Child Delivery

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Preventable medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. They recently have been blamed for an even more specific fatal epidemic: women who die in the United States from pregnancy-related complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the findings of its research into child delivery-related deaths (“Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Related Deaths, United States, 2011–2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013–2017”). The CDC reviewed data from 2011 through 2015 and documented 3,410 pregnancy-related deaths.

That’s about 700 mothers’ deaths relating to child delivery a year. The researchers found that:

·         31 percent of mothers died during pregnancy

·         17 percent of mothers died on the day of delivery

·         19 percent of mothers died up to six days following delivery

·         21 percent of mothers died up to six weeks following delivery

·         12 percent of mothers died up to one year following delivery

The CDC reports the leading cause of these deaths were heart conditions, infections, and bleeding.  Most glaring, the CDC concluded that 60 percent – about three out of every five - of the mothers’ deaths were preventable.

Doctors’ Mistakes in Birthing Deaths

The study notes that the health facility and health care providers were chief contributors to the pregnancy related deaths.  Health facility issues included lack of appropriate personnel and limited experience with obstetric emergencies.  Obstetric emergencies, such as hemorrhaging, were labeled a primary cause of a mother’s death during delivery.

Provider-related preventable errors included missed or delayed diagnosis and a lack of continuity of care.

This is not the first troubling account of errors made during child delivery.  Earlier this year USA Today published an expose on child-birth deaths (“Hospitals Know How to Protect Mothers. They Just Aren’t Doing It”), determining that half of maternity fatalities are preventable in this country.  It also found Missouri as having among the highest maternal death rates of all states.

Hospitals Admit Not Taking Proper Child Delivery Precautions

The report includes admissions from many hospitals that they weren’t taking adequate safety measures during delivery, such as monitoring the mother’s blood loss or properly administering drugs to mothers with high blood pressure.

The Joint Commission accredits the majority of U.S. hospitals. In April, it announced new standards for perinatal care for hospitals to follow.  They focus on mothers who suffer from blood loss or hypertension/preeclampsia.  Both are leading causes of maternal deaths - about 40 percent of all deaths, according to the Joint Commission.

The recommendations call for hospitals to have in place written procedures on how to handle these delivery emergencies, educate staff on the procedures, and conduct drills that simulate these emergencies with delivery teams at least once a year.

Child birth should never be treated as a routine event, even in the United States.  Difficulties should be anticipated and proper steps taken to prevent a mother’s needless death.

If a loved one of yours suffered serious injuries or died during the delivery of her child, contact a medical malpractice attorney to begin an investigation on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted to Blog May 10, 2019


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