Last year, Ina May Gaskin published an article in the Journal of Perinatal Education entitled “Maternal Death in the United States: A Problem Solved or a Problem Ignored?” Very well worth reading.
This stood out most to me:
A recent article in a major obstetrical journal revealed a 93% underreporting rate of maternal death in Massachusetts (Deneux-Tharaux et al., 2005). It is very likely that a similar rate of error could be found in the other 49 states. Not only do we have a comparatively high death rate for women from causes directly related to pregnancy or birth, we are almost certainly failing to gather most of the data. Because of this, we literally have no idea how many U.S. women die from pregnancy- or birth-related causes every year. The CDC’s most recent guess is that they could be missing as much as 2/3 of the maternal deaths (Johnson & Rutledge, 1998). How can we prevent those deaths that are preventable when we don’t really know why all of these women are dying? [emphases mine]
She then goes on to explain how easy it is for maternal deaths to be not reported — most easily if the person in charge of filling out the death certificate does not even know that the woman had been pregnant in the previous year, and/or if the state does not have a check-box for the M.E. or coroner or whoever fills out the death certificate to state whether or not the woman was pregnant in the preceding year.
As an addendum, I recently read this article which was disturbing — apparently an anesthesiologist had meningitis and passed it along to two patients through their spinal/epidurals, killing one. The article said it’s not uncommon for anesthesiologists not to wear a mask. That will probably change. I assume the anesthesiologist did not know he was sick or contagious; and that can happen — remember “Typhoid Mary” of the 1800s? — although she was never sick with typhoid herself, she passed it along to numerous people who died. Many diseases can be carried on or in a person without making the carrier sick. Or the disease can be not yet big enough in his system to make him feel sick even though he is. You can take steps to reduce or prevent infection.
Filed under: safe motherhood, studies & stuff Tagged: | acquired infection, baby, birth, hospital, hospital infection, hospital-acquired infections, ina may gaskin, infection, maternal death, maternal mortality, pregnancy, pregnant, safe motherhood, safe motherhood quilt project