United States Maternal Mortality Rates Alarmingly High, Studies Show

Every year in the United States, between 700 and 900 women die as the result of pregnancy or childbirth and approximately 65,000 come very close to death, leading some to conclude the United States has the worst maternal mortality in the developed world.

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of maternal deaths in the United States doubled.  In contrast, every other affluent country has seen a decrease in maternal deaths during the same time period.  Women in the United States are three times more likely than Canadian women to die during the maternal period; six times more likely to die than Scandinavian women; and ten times more likely to die than women in Poland.

The leading causes of maternal fatalities are pulmonary embolism, infection, hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, cardiovascular conditions, cardiomyopathy, and non-cardiovascular medical conditions.  Many of these conditions can be treated if diagnosed in time.  It is estimated that approximately 60% of maternal deaths in the United States can be prevented.

There are many problems pregnant women in the United States face today, which give rise to this increase in maternal deaths.  First, there is often a lack of coordination of care for women who are deemed at “high risk.”  We run into cases in which a woman with a “high risk” pregnancy was never evaluated by a physician, only a midwife.  There is also often a delay in diagnosis.  As a result of not receiving proper care by a physician, medical conditions that can be treated often go undiagnosed.  Finally, in many circumstances, providers fail to timely respond to emergent situations.  Providers may not recognize—or ignore—signs of fetal distress and not call an OB/GYN until it is too late to perform a caesarian.

Doctors and health care providers need to start focusing on preventing maternal deaths.  One of the ways to institute change is to hold providers responsible for their negligence.  The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling claims involving childbirth and pregnancy-related injuries.  If you or a loved one have been injured during pregnancy or childbirth, contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.