In the entire developed world, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality. According to a year-long investigation conducted by National Public Radio and ProPublica, between 700 and 900 American women die each year for reasons connected to pregnancy or childbirth. 70 times as many women suffer serious health complications for the same reasons.
And many of these consequences are preventable.
One high-traffic hospital in Los Angeles was studied over a two and a half year period. Researchers determined that improved care could have helped nearly half of the pregnant patients suffering from life-threatening complications.
The problem is getting worse.
In a 21-year study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) between 1993 and 2014:
- Instances of nearly fatal pregnancy or child birth complications more than doubled, emergency hysterectomies rose by 60 percent and the rate of blood transfusions quintupled.
In recent years, the U.S. has seen sharp increases in pregnant women who required breathing tubes, who contracted the damaging and potentially deadly infection sepsis and whose child birth prevented them from ever being able to conceive again.
When a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, some states have established committees to investigate the cause of death. For cases of maternal morbidity, however, no state aside from Illinois requires further investigation.
However, the staggering morbidity statistics compared to other developed countries would suggest a trend of malpractice or incomplete care for pregnant women in the U.S. In Britain, for instance, a woman is 20 percent as likely to require a hysterectomy and 33 percent as likely to require a breathing tube during childbirth compared to a woman in the U.S.
If you believe you have experienced undue suffering during your pregnancy, consult with a medical malpractice attorney to help determine your recourse.