Pregnant women trust hospitals to provide a safe environment for childbirth. Most of the time, this trust is earned. The right medical professionals and nurses can improve the birthing process and make a complicated pregnancy less intimidating.
However, researchers across the United States found gaps in hospitals' treatment of pregnant women. An investigative report by USA Today noted that U.S. mothers are the most at risk in the developed world to suffer preventable injuries or death during childbirth.
Report: U.S. isn't doing enough to protect mothers
A thorough investigation has revealed that over 50,000 mothers suffer injuries during or after childbirth in the U.S. every year - and at least half of these are preventable. Horribly, hundreds of mothers unnecessarily lose their lives. If hospitals and healthcare workers enacted established safety procedures already proven successful, thousands of lives could be saved.
California leading the way
The lone bright spot in U.S. maternal care is California, which has seen its maternal fatility rate cut in half in recent years.
Many California hospitals stepped up their safety practices earlier this decade, implementing safety procedures designed to guard against preventable injury and death during childbirth. The good news is hospitals across the country, while slow to catch on, have been noticing these successes. The number of hospitals voluntarily agreeing to implement standard safety practices doubled in 2018.
More needs to be done
While the efforts to improve care are commendable, it's critical to note that much more needs to be done. Birth injuries involving hypertension (high blood pressure) and hemorrhaging (extreme blood loss) are still common, and can often be prevented. Because hospitals may choose not to take part in safety programs, mothers can never be sure all is being done to guard them and their children from harm.
Doctors and other medical professionals make judgment calls during treatment to see if, or when, the action is necessary. If the doctor delays a response for too long, death is a strong possibility for the mother and the child.
Until more safety measures are in place, mothers and their children will continue to suffer preventable injuries and death.