Giving birth has always been risky for both mothers and for the infant. With modern medicine giving birth has become safer, however there seems to have been a recent increase in the number of severe complications to the mother resulting from childbirth. Emergencies during delivery have increased by seventy-five percent. Additionally, in the days that follow the delivery, complications to the mother have doubled.
The increase in complications during childbirth is due in part to the number of pregnant women who are older, obese, or have chronic conditions which put them at higher risk. Healthy women can experience major complications as well, such as hemorrhaging, the most common cause of death after childbirth. The increase in the number of caesarean-section deliveries has been associated with an increase in placenta accrete which can cause severe hemorrhaging after delivery.
There already exists programs implemented focusing on preventing harm to infants during childbirth and after. Now, due to the increase of complications, there is a call for emphasis on preventing harm to mothers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is attempting to establish guidelines and protocols for improving the safety for mothers and preventing injury by funding programs in several states. Obstetric teams are using drills to increase response time to maternal complications for doctors and nurses.
Hospitals have implemented training protocols to prevent harm to mothers and infants and hospitals that have implemented such training have seen liability claims drop by thirty-nine percent. In addition, instances of post-delivery hemorrhage dropped by 5.4 percent a year. To prevent common of causes of death, such as hemorrhage, which can occur a few days after delivery in all types of patients, even low risk patients, standardized prevention measures are important to follow.
There have been several recent medical malpractice payouts of more than $20 million each due to complications due to childbirth. Twenty-five percent or more of a hospital’s total payout for medical malpractice claims can be from obstetrics. One New York City hospital has closed their obstetrics practice in part in fear of lawsuits. New training programs and procedures to prevent harm to mothers may help hospitals avoid or limit liability in the future.
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