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More Attention Needed on Maternal Complications During Childbirth

When problems develop during childbirth most assume the same thing: I hope the child is OK. However, a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that we also need renewed focus on possible harm facing mothers during a birth.

Of course, in the past, childbirth has always been an incredibly dangerous time for mothers. In less developed parts of the world the material death rate remains shockingly high. While we recognize the risk elsewhere, in the United States there is a somewhat unacknowledged assumption that mothers will be fine during a delivery. The high risk of death during childbirth is a thing of the past–now the risk is very small.

Obviously vast improvements have been made over the decades on this front, but the problem has not gone away entirely. In fact, in some ways the risk of harm to the mother during childbirth has increased in recent years. It is vitally important that all of us understand this risk and that medical professionals act reasonable at all times to ensure mothers are not hurt in preventable ways as a result of inadequate response to maternal health complications during a birth.

As discussed in a recent story, the CDC report suggests that various maternal complications have rocked up by 75% in the decade ending in 2009, as compared to the rates from the 1990s. Those increases come in the form of more instances of cardiac arrest, kidney failure, respiratory problems, and severe bleeding. Each of these problems are incredibly serious and threaten the life of the mother.

The story explains that there are about 4 million births in the U.S. each year. Most of those occur without problems. When problems do develop, they are generally moderate. But in about 52,000 cases a year, severe complications arise for the mother. It it that total that has been rising in recent years. The reason, say those most familiar with the situation, is an increase in “high-risk” pregnancies. Now more than ever mothers who are older, are obese, and have chronic health conditions are giving birth.

The somewhat startling study is a reminder that medical professionals must act quickly and appropriately at all times to prevent harm to mothers during birth. While much focus has been placed on helping infants survive following complications, far fewer advances have been made on maternal health.

This needs to be corrected. Hopefully, changes are slowly rolled out at institutions across the country so that the medical response to these issues is quicker. One basic way to tackle the issue is increased preparation. Timing is of the utmost importance at these times, because if medical teams delay in even the slightest way after signs of problems, the delay can prove fatal. However, if medical teams are drilled in the possible problems and the correct responses, then their reaction time can be increased–perhaps saving lives. Toward that end the CDC is actually funding programs to help improve routines and protocols as hospitals to determine the response methods that are most successful.

While signs suggest things are moving in the right direct, there is a still a long way to go before all mothers receive reasonable care free of complications. If you or someone you knows is ever hurt in this way, please contact the medical malpractice lawyers at our firm to see how we can help.

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