Investigation Finds Obstetric Patients Suffer Thousands of Injuries, Hundreds of Deaths Each Year Because Known Safety Practices Are Skipped

August 1, 2018 | Risk Management News

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​A USA Todayinvestigation, published July 26, 2018, found that hospitals and healthcare providers across the nation frequently fail to provide recommended medical treatments for women giving birth, potentially causing thousands of preventable severe injuries to obstetric patients and possibly hundreds of preventable deaths. No national tracking system records obstetric complications, but reporters say they found that, annually, more than 50,000 women are severely injured during childbirth, and approximately 700 die. Further, the article says, estimates indicate that about half of these deaths could be prevented, and half the injuries could be prevented if better care were provided. Reporters emphasize that many of these injuries or deaths are related to unmeasured blood loss or unsafe blood pressure levels, for which interventions are well known and inexpensive. Hospitals across Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the report says, did not treat maternity patients promptly for unsafe blood pressure levels; some hospitals gave the recommended treatment to fewer than 15% of maternity patients who had hypertension.

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