The United States is the most dangerous place in the developed world for a woman to give birth with a maternal death rate that has risen sharply between 1990 to 2015 while the rates have dropped in other developed nations, according to an investigation by USA Today.
The investigation looked at two primary categories of data: the maternal death rate and state “harm” rates, which includes complications during or soon after birth.
Minnesota has the 42nd highest maternal death rate in the country and the 41st highest harm rate, the investigation found. The data is based on death rates from 2012-16 and harm rates from Jan. to Sept. 2015.
USA Today ranked 47 states for which data was available.
– Number of births (2016): 69,749
– Death rate (2012-16): 11.8 per 100,000 births
Minnesota has a team to review deaths from childbirth complications but the team does not consistently assess medical care issues, according to USA Today’s findings.
Here’s how USA Today categorized the team assigned to review the state’s childbirth deaths:
“Minnesota’s maternal death review panel publishes one-page summaries of its recommendations that don’t mention specific findings or numbers of women’s deaths studied. Its 2016 summary points to an increase in maternal deaths involving substance use, depression, suicide and gun violence but makes no mention of medical care failures. Recommendations are directed toward patients as well as health care providers, and the provider section includes no mention of specific problems. Instead, the report focuses on issues such as the need to screen for depression and substance abuse.”
Here are some of USA Today’s key findings:
– Estimates say about half of the U.S.’ 700 maternal deaths could be prevented and half of the 50,000 maternal injuries prevented or reduced with better care
– Hospitals across the country fail to perform basic medical tasks that could be life-saving
– The maternal death rate has fallen in California and the state is considered an exception in the country with its health care practices regarded as the gold standard of care
– Regulators and oversight boards could require hospitals to do more
– Women interviewed by USA Today described feeling “frustrated, angry and powerless” because of practitioners they felt didn’t listen to them or weren’t prepared for emergencies
– It can take long periods of times for best practices to be adopted by health care providers in the U.S.