Do Pregnancy Management Problems Lead to Maternal Deaths?

The Press-Gazette posted a story this week on a rally outside in downtown area by those calling for changes to birthing methods. The rally sent a clear message that community members cannot stand by when safety during childbirth is at issue. Life and death hangs in the balance whenever a mother goes in to give birth, and it is incumbent that medical caregivers act appropriately at all times.

Birth Injury Rally
According to the story over sixty people attending the downtown rally. It was organized by a group called “Improving Birth” which extols “evidence based” birthing practices. The underlying cause, participants say, was concern about the current state of maternal care in America. This concern is mirrored by many lawyers working on cases involving birth injury. While advances in medicine and true marvels of life-saving techniques exist, the number of injuries and deaths related to childbirth remain concerningly high.

Some push off the poor injury and death rates as indications of the inherent dangers in all childbirths, not any particular problem with current care methods. Yet, reformers argue that while childbirth involves risk, the current state of care in the U.S. during birth is deficient. They point to statistics which show that the United States is an abysmal 47th in the world for maternal death rate–far below most other advanced Western democracies. This translates into 21 deaths for every 100,000 live births; placing us on par with Iran and Hungary.

For rally participants the fix needs to come from hospitals themselves, as they urged administrators to review current birthing policies. Some participants argued that current practices do not mesh with the best science. Part of the argument concerns use of artificial means to give birth. One participant argued that “the state we’re in has women not trusting our bodies, believing we can’t give birth without machines, and its not true.”

In addition, others point to a lack of access to quality health care as a crucial cause of the relatively high maternal death rate. Facility shortages and poor quality care were cited as the main culprits in two reports on the issue published in the Association for Reproductive Health Professional’s Contraception Journal.

One of the specific claims made by rally participants were concerns about unnecessarily induced labor. Some local families experienced significant side effects following induction complications. These problems arise, in part, via the medications used to induce the labor,increasing the strength and frequency of contractions.

Birth Injury Lawsuits
The argument made by participants of this rally touch on some legal issues as they pertain to accountability following a birthing error. All civil lawsuits seek to identify “reasonable care” in any given situation. That determination of reasonableness (one would hope) would be rooted in evidence-based practices. Though, determining exactly what actions fall into that category and what do not is often tricky to delineate. Parsing through the arguments and comparing with conduct elsewhere is a key part of the effort and an underlying theme in all legal cases following allegations of misconduct during childbirth.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Case Spurs Questions About Med Mal Jury Instructions

Unwanted Intrusion with Forceps Leads to Birth Injury Lawsuit

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