“Every year, thousands of women suffer life-altering injuries or die during childbirth because hospitals and medical workers skip safety practices known to head off disaster”, the investigation found.
The investigative report said that each year more than 50,000 are severely injured, and that 700 mothers die. Half of these deaths could be prevented and half the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care, said the report.
The U.S. falls behind and now ranks as the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth, and this as other countries continue to improve in leaps and bounds, the report said.
Many hospitals interviewed by across the country by USA TODAY conceded that they were not taking safety steps such as quantifying women’s blood loss or tracking whether moms with dangerously high blood pressure got proper medication in time.
In the U.S. the maternal death rate averaged 9.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births during the years 1979–1986,but then rose rapidly to 14 per 100,000 in 2000 and 17.8 per 100,000 in 2009. In 2013 the rate was 18.5 deaths per 100,000 live births. It has been suggested that the rise in maternal death in the United States may be due to improved identification and misclassification resulting in false positives.
Since 2016, ProPublica and NPR investigated factors that led to the increase in maternal mortality in the United States. They reported that the “rate of life-threatening complications for new mothers in the U.S. has more than doubled in two decades due to pre-existing conditions, medical errors and unequal access to care.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 million women who give birth in the US annually, over 50,000 a year, experience “dangerous and even life-threatening complications.”
According to a report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1993 the rate of Severe Maternal Morbidity, rose from 49.5 to 144 “per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations” in 2014, an increase of almost 200 percent. Blood transfusions also increased during the same period with “from 24.5 in 1993 to 122.3 in 2014 and are considered to be the major driver of the increase in SMM. After excluding blood transfusions, the rate of SMM increased by about 20% over time, from 28.6 in 1993 to 35.0 in 2014.
USA today listed some of these maternal deaths:
“In Ohio, Ali Lowry bled internally after giving birth in 2013, but medical staff didn’t recognize and act on the warning signs for hours, according to records in a lawsuit that she has since settled. By the time she was airlifted to another hospital for lifesaving surgery, her delivery hospital had nearly run out of blood and Ali’s heart had stopped.
In Texas, Beatriz Garcia nearly bled to death when doctors and nurses were slow to help her after not quantifying her blood loss, she alleged in federal and state lawsuits. Garcia’s heart stopped. She needed a hysterectomy. She’s now awaiting a kidney transplant.”