According to a recent article in USA Today, maternal death rates in the US are the highest in the developed world. Every year more than 50,000 women suffer serious birth-related injuries—700 of those fatal—that could be prevented if healthcare providers followed safety protocols. As the article explains, doctors and nurses often ignore safety recommendations that can prevent birth-related injuries, such as “weighing bloody pads to track blood loss,” or “giving medication within an hour of spotting dangerously high blood pressure to fend off strokes.” As a result of medical negligence, pregnant women suffer severe and sometimes fatal injuries during childbirth, including blood clots and infections.
However, according to an article in Self Magazine, California is doing much better than the rest of the country when it comes to preventing birth-related injuries and maternal deaths. What is different about healthcare in California?
Maternal Death Rate in California is Half That of the Rest of the Country
One of the most common reasons that women suffer debilitating and deadly injuries during birth is due to hemorrhage and blood loss. In California, doctors are prepared to respond quickly (and often effectively) to hemorrhaging. For example, the article describes the “hemorrhage cart,” which was created by a doctor with California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC). What is a “hemorrhage cart”? It is a cart that is “equipped with the instruments needed to treat postpartum hemorrhage as swiftly as possible,” and these carts “are part of the CMQCC’s initiative to reduce pregnancy related emergencies.” In the article, Dr. Elliott Main, who created the cart and is a Stanford University professor of obstetrics and gynecology, explained that it is “like a crash cart,” equipped with “meds, balloons, fluids.”
Due to developments like the crash cart and other initiatives being put into practice by CMQCC, the maternal death rate in California is much lower than the maternal death rate in the rest of the United States. To give you a sense of the maternal death rate in the U.S. and where it stands in relation to the rest of the world, the current rate of birth injury-related deaths is at 26.4 per 100,000 childbirths. The safest countries for childbirth, such as Finland and Norway, have a maternal death rate of 3.8 deaths per 100,000 births. In Canada, the maternal death rate is 7.3 per 100,000 births, and the U.K. and Germany have maternal deaths rates at around 9 per 100,000 births. Where does that put the U.S.? The article describes the ranking starkly: the U.S. is “sandwiched between Uzbekistan’s 26.2 and Kazakhstan’s 26.5.”
Racial Disparities Persist in Maternal Deaths and Birth-Related Injuries
In California, the number is right around 13 deaths per 100,000 births. That number is still higher than other countries in the developed world, but it is significantly lower than the average maternal death rate in the rest of the country.
It is important to make clear, however, that racial disparities continue to persist when it comes to maternal injuries and deaths during childbirth. Indeed, “Black women in this country are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.”
Contact an Oceanside Birth Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love suffered serious birth-related injuries, you should speak with a birth injury lawyer about filing a medical negligence claim. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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(image courtesy of Janko Ferlic)