A USA Today investigation found that the United States is the “most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world.”
In the investigation released on Thursday, titled “Deadly Deliveries,” the publication found that the country now has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, with more than 50,000 mothers reported as severely injured during or after childbirth per year. The investigation also found that 700 mothers in the country die during or after child birth every year.
“Experts say that about 50 percent of the deaths of women from childbirth-related causes could be prevented if they were given better medical care and that’s a really surprising thing given that we’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we spend so much on medical care,” USA Today investigative reporter Alison Young, who authored the investigation, said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Thursday.
“We’re not just talking about the women who die, we’re talking about 50,000 U.S. women who are suffering life-altering harms,” Young continued.
Young looked in to the nation’s hospital maternity wards and received several accounts from families who lost women due to childbirth, in addition to women who were said to be permanently harmed during their deliveries, for the four-year investigation.
In one of the examples provided in the USA Today investigation, a woman was said to have experienced internal bleeding after delivering a baby by C-section. The woman nearly bled to death due to the number of hours it took the medical staff to realize she had internal bleeding and was in need of a hysterectomy, according to the report. She and her husband later filed a lawsuit against the Knox Community Hospital in Ohio and settled the case outside of court.Young also named hemorrhaging and severe hypertension as the two leading causes of childbirth deaths and said in her investigation that hospitals are often just “eye-balling” a patient’s blood loss during childbirth instead of weighing the warning signs in such cases.
“These things have been known for many years as things that need to be done but it needs to be made a priority at hospitals,” Young said. “One of the things that is being advocated for by groups like the AIM group [Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Programs] is having checklists.”
The state-by-state rankings of maternal harms and deaths are also included in the USA Today investigation in addition to a guide with lifesaving tips for a safer birth.