Three in five pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable

According to a new report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented.

By now, it’s well-known that the U.S. has the highest maternal death rate among the world’s developed nations and that approximately 700 women die each year as a result of pregnancy-related complications.

CDC researchers analyzed data from its Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, as well as data from 13 state maternal mortality review committees. The CDC team looked at the timing and characteristics of pregnancy-related deaths to determine the percentage that were preventable, factors that contributed to the deaths and prevention strategies to address contributing factors.

Nearly one-third of the women studied in the report died during pregnancy and another third died during childbirth or within the week after childbirth; leading causes varied by timing of death.

The researchers determined that approximately three in five pregnancy-related deaths were preventable and that there is a need to identify and implement strategies to address the multiple factors that contribute to deaths that occur during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.

The report also concluded that no single intervention is sufficient.

CDC report recommendations and how OBHG is addressing maternal mortality
OBHG firmly believes that steps must be taken to reverse our country’s rising maternal mortality rate and save mother’s lives. While our network may not be the full solution to reducing maternal mortality, we know that we are making a significant impact in preventing pregnancy-related deaths through our efforts with our hospital partners.

The CDC report lists limited experience with obstetric emergencies as a contributing factor to the deaths that occurred. As pioneers of OB hospitalist medicine, OBHG has 13 years of singularly focused experience across our national network of hospital partners. No matter the day or time, there is an experienced OBHG-employed hospitalist on site, ready to evaluate patients and handle any emergency that may come through the door. Our OB hospitalists work closely with community OB/GYNs, ensuring that their patients will receive the best care if he/she cannot make it to the hospital.

OBHG hospitalists also give care to all, regardless of insurance type or prenatal care. Our collaborative approach helps to eliminate the “delay in care” that is associated with harm events and one-third of OB claims.

“Lack of guiding protocols or tools to help ensure quality care provision,” is another contributing factor in the CDC report. OBHG has developed a standard set of protocols for delivery complications such as preeclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage. We also developed a C-section reduction toolkit to combat medically unnecessary C-sections (one of the strategies outlined in the CDC report is to only perform cesarean deliveries when medically indicated). We partner with our hospitals to implement standard protocols and track all data to develop action plans when a partner hospital falls below a target or bring results from differentiated performance to our other programs.

OBHG programs are also well suited to help address some of the issues that arise in the postpartum period, a solution to “lack of appropriate personnel or services,” identified as another contributing factor in the CDC report.  Our OB hospitalist teams work closely with our hospital partners to ensure that all patients presenting with pregnancy related emergencies in the first weeks of the postpartum period are seen by an obstetrician, either in the main emergency department or in the obstetrics emergency department. We work closely with our hospital providers in not only implementing postpartum protocols but also educating other providers about signs and risks of postpartum health concerns.

If you would like to learn more about how OBHG hospitalists are addressing maternal mortality, please contact us to schedule a consultation. To read the full CDC report, click here.

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