Even though we’re well into the 21st century and medical technology continues to reach new heights, it seems that delivering a baby in the United States can still be a dangerous event with serious risks. For pregnant moms with preeclampsia or other prenatal/postpartum conditions—it can even be deadly. USA Today’s recent investigative report revealed that more than 50,000 women in the U.S. are significantly injured during childbirth and about 600-800 women actually die from childbirth complications. The report goes on to suggest that hospitals and their medical staff often skip safety practices that could prevent such tragedies—a pervasive problem that places the United States’ maternal death rate in last place among developed nations.
Childbirth complications within the United States target women of every race, ethnicity, income level, and geographic area. Studies show few trends other than that the number of maternal deaths is growing. Currently, the U.S. averages 26.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, yet, according to a global study from the World Health Organization, the average number of deaths for other developed nations is around 12 deaths per 100,000 live births (other industrialized nations comparable to the U.S. such as Germany, Great Britain, France, Canada and Japan all boast a number of 9 or less; Sweden averages only 4.4)
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports pregnancy-related deaths have steadily increased in the United States during the past 30 years—a period in which other industrialized nations have shown a reduction. What’s more alarming is that statistics show that we are headed in the opposite direction. Between 1987 and 2014 the number increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. to 18 deaths, a jump of 150 percent.
The USA Today investigative team reviewed more than half a million pages of internal hospital quality records and found that, “These documents…reveal a stunning lack of attention to safety recommendations and widespread failure to protect new mothers.”
Unfortunately, today’s medical professionals put such focus on the health and care of newborns that they often fail to take the most basic of precautions to protect the new mother. From spiking blood pressure to excessive hemorrhaging, dangerous symptoms are ignored or go entirely unnoticed, ultimately leading to severe and sometimes fatal complications such as organ failure, stroke or infection. In another of our blog posts, we talk more about such risks and how this is truly a failure at all levels within the medical community.
Whether it’s a lack of education, mentorship or just plain and simple accountability, there’s no denying we could do much better. But it’s important we look beyond the numbers because this isn’t just about statistics. We’re talking about the lives of individuals being cut short, all while trying to bring another life into this world. It’s a repeated tragedy that’s only more tragic because most are preventable.
If you have suffered a post-natal threat to your health or a loved one has died after giving birth due to unmonitored circumstances, it is worth speaking with an experienced lawyer at the law firm of Bailey and Greer—we are always available to help with more information or a free evaluation of your case. You can contact us via our website or call 901-475-7434.
Thomas Greer is a Memphis, TN personal injury trial attorney with Bailey & Greer. He has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Thomas has obtained multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout his career. Thomas lives in Memphis with his wife and four daughters.