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Misdiagnoses, delayed care play role in maternal mortality rates

Maternal mortality rates are on the rise in the United States. Experts have pointed to demographics as a primary cause. High blood pressure and large infant birth weights are often blamed. A new investigation points to a bigger problem: misdiagnoses and delayed care.

Details of the investigation: Data points to misdiagnoses and delayed care. Researchers with the investigation reviewed hospital billing data for over 7 million births throughout the United States. The researchers focused on data from the last four years with indicators of childbirth complications.

Researchers found examples of medical professionals who failed to intervene when new mothers experience high blood pressure, headaches and other signs of a stroke. They also found cases involving residents and fellows leading cesarean deliveries without a board-certified obstetrician available to offer guidance or aid when needed. Although teaching facilities can offer quality care to patients, it is important those who are learning their specialty have the guidance of trained and certified professionals. A failure to do so is not just against the rules, but dangerous to both the mother and infant.

Hospitals react: Some change, some deny problem. In response to the investigation, one hospital stated the data was “unsound” and the maternal mortality rate was more likely connected to the area’s high rate of poor health, poverty and lifestyle disease.

Researchers counter with examples of other urban area medical centers that serve a similar demographic but have implemented childbirth safety practices and require Obstetricians on-call in the building at all times. As a result, the facilities report lower complication rates.

Take-away lesson: The importance of fighting for your rights. Mothers have the right to expect their physician to provide quality care during the labor and delivery process. Those who do not receive such care can hold their provider accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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