United States Among the Highest Maternal Mortality Rates
The New York Times reports the maternal mortality rate in many nations has fallen sharply except in the United States. According to a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the rate of women dying during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth has doubled in Texas. The maternal mortality ratio was 35.8 per 100,000 live births in 2014 – a drastic increase from 17.7 per 100,000 live births in 2000.
In California, that figure fell from 21.5 in 2003 to 15.1 in 2014. However, the remaining 48 states and District of Columbia increased from 18.8 in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014. This is a disappointing reality for the United States, making us the second-highest maternal mortality ratio among the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The only other country with a higher figure was Mexico – coming in at 38.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
Comparatively, in 2014 it was reported that the Netherlands had the lowest ratio at 2.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, Japan had the second best ratio at 3.3, Germany came in third with 4.1, Canada was at 5.7 and Britain had 6.7. So why is the United States lagging so far behind?
New York Times reports, “a big part of the problem is the inequality embedded in America’s health care system.” The 2010 Affordable Care Act made health insurance more affordable, but millions of families in the U.S. still can’t afford the care they need. Additionally, lawmakers in many states have repeatedly cut funds from reproductive health programs due to ideological opposition to contraception and abortion. This is believed to be part of the problem in Texas. In 2011, state lawmakers reduced spending on women’s health care in an effort to eliminate Planned Parenthood. These cuts took effect at the end of that year and don’t account for all of the increase, but it did not aid maternal health.
It is reported by a task force created by Texas legislature that the biggest killers during and after pregnancy in Texas are cardiac problems and overdoses involving prescription opioids and other illegal drugs. It was also found that maternal mortality was much higher for black women than Hispanic or white women in Texas.
Suggestions for improvement in Texas include: increased funding for more health clinics in minority communities and in mental health and addiction treatment, and expanding Medicaid to cover 1.2 million more poor people. It’s also suggested they take after California, which organized doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and public interest groups to focus on maternal mortality, developing state-of-the-art treatments for causes of maternal death like hemorrhages and pre-eclampsia.
But results from other countries show there’s even more we could be doing. One reason for Britain’s lower ratio is due to a mandatory system of confidential reviews, created in 1954, of every maternal, newborn and infant death to determine what went wrong and how doctors and hospitals can improve.
Knapp & Roberts has been working for more than 20 years to defend mothers and babies who have been seriously injured or died due to the negligence of doctors, nurses and hospitals. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to medical malpractice, contact the expert personal injury attorneys in Arizona today. We care. We listen. And we can help obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you suffered. Contact Knapp & Roberts at 480-991-7677 or fill out the Do I Have a Case form on our website for a free initial consultation.
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