Maternity care should be among our top priorities as a society and yet we as a nation consistently fall short in this significant area. While there is a host of available information regarding hospital complication rates, there is little to no data related to childbirth complication rates made available to the public in the United States. USA Today sought to correct this issue, attempting to lift the veil on complication rates in maternity care and expose what is really going on in U.S. hospitals.
Complication Rates in Hospital Maternity Units
The results of the investigation, released in part in the article “Deadly Deliveries: Childbirth Complication Rates at Maternity Hospitals,” were published recently. In the course of the deep-dive into data from 7 million childbirths across 13 states, investigators discovered significantly higher rates of maternal complications in 120 hospitals. In order to effectively evaluate childbirth complication rates, researchers employed a calculation method devised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC’s calculation is used to identify and analyze state and federal trends in childbirth complication rates. However, the results of this government-level analysis are not published publicly. The CDC looks at a variety of health complications that occur in hospitals, including hemorrhage, heart attack, stroke, blood transfusions, seizures, hysterectomies, and other events to which they refer as “severe maternal morbidity” or SMM. According to the CDC, 50,000 women in the U.S. experience serious childbirth related complications every year, with the number trending upward. For example, the rate of severe childbirth complications was over twice what it was in 2000 by the year 2010.
Why Hospitals Don’t Report Maternal Birth Complications
Notably, USA Today could only gather data from willing participants and they ran into serious hurdles in the research process. Numerous hospitals refused to provide any information, as is the case with the vast majority of healthcare centers, insurance companies, and state agencies across the country.
Hospitals and healthcare agencies argue that several intervening variables skew the results when it comes to maternal childbirth complication rates. For instance, they note that some hospitals experience higher rates because they accept more high risk pregnancies and handle more severe cases. Other hospitals point to the actual patients that come through their doors, explaining that they serve more women of a certain race or socioeconomic strata. Regardless of these contentions, the USA Today study found that some hospitals still performed better than others in the face of the same challenges.
There were 1027 hospitals included in the data from across the United States, some of which are in bustling metropolitan areas while others are located deep in rural ones. Among the hospitals that did cooperate, the results were astounding. The research showed that the rate of severe childbirth complications among women was at least twice as high as typical complication rates in American hospitals. Perhaps even more shocking? White women in the hospitals with higher rates were three-times more likely to suffer severe complications. Moreover, insured patients were harmed in childbirth at higher rates than uninsured patients.
Mothers Experiencing Complications in New Jersey Maternity Centers
Wondering how New Jersey stood up in the analysis? Not a single hospital in New Jersey was included in the results of the above investigation. However, a Leapfrog Hospital Survey in 2017 found that New Jersey hospitals under-performed on key measures, such as the rate of C-section deliveries. There were 47 hospitals included in the Leapfrog Survey, which were examined based on their average rates of surgical delivery and early elective delivery. Among these participants, merely 9 met the goal rate of 23.9 percent or fewer surgical deliveries (C-sections). From the sparse data available, New Jersey hospitals clearly leave much to be desired in the realm of maternal healthcare delivery and reporting.
Wondering about Your Rights after Childbirth Complications in NJ?
If you or a loved one experienced complications during childbirth in New Jersey, contact our seasoned NJ birth injury lawyers to discuss your case. Our team of attorneys assists mothers and babies who suffer injuries as a result of substandard medical care in hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the state. We are here to answer your questions and explain your legal rights. Call 866-708-8617 for more information and speak with a lawyer free of charge.