The United States has the highest maternal mortality rates in the entire developed world, with expecting mothers routinely suffering from preventable conditions like postpartum hemorrhage. In an attempt to combat this maternal injury epidemic, the Joint Commission has called for new national hospital standards, which will go into effect on July 1st, 2020.
At The Becker Law Firm, we applaud this effort by the Joint Commission to take action on maternal mortality. As experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Ohio, we’ve witnessed the carelessness of many maternal health care providers firsthand, as we advocate for injured patients across the state. Although thousands of expecting mothers still face serious injury risks right now, the new hospital standards are a step in the right direction.
Rising Maternal Mortality Rates Across the U.S.
In 2017, ProPublica and NPR launched a massive investigation that detailed the dangers of giving birth in the United States, especially for black mothers. The following year, USA Today also released the results of an investigation into maternal mortality, which showed that the United States currently has a maternal death rate of 26.4 out of 100,000 births. That’s more than double the rate in England, the next closest runner-up. It’s also estimated that for every American woman who dies in childbirth, up to 70 more experience life-threatening injuries and illnesses because of physician negligence.
Because of these groundbreaking investigations, lawmakers have faced increased pressure to fix hospital standards for pregnant women. By the end of 2018, dozens of bipartisan Congress members had introduced bills proposing to either fix or study the maternal health care crisis. Most notably, the Senate unanimously approved the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act in December 2018, which allocated $12 million in federal funding to this issue over the next 5 years.
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act also prescribes the creation of maternal health review committees in every single state. However, it will take years for mothers to benefit from these review committees: In the meantime, hundreds of pregnant women will still die each year from preventable injuries.
The Joint Commission Takes Action
The Joint Commission is an independent non-profit that accredits more than 22,000 health care providers, organizations, and programs across the country. It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 American babies are delivered at Joint Commission-accredited hospitals each year. Earlier this week, the Joint Commission announced that all qualifying hospitals must keep supply kits to stop excessive bleeding, and postpartum hemorrhage. Hospitals must also enforce training drills for doctors and nurses so they can manage preeclampsia and hemorrhage injuries.
Any accredited hospitals that fail to meet these requirements by July 1st, 2020 will risk losing their accreditation. By issuing new hospital standards and procedural requirements, the Joint Commission may be able to temporarily alleviate the problem while lawmakers review the crisis.
Seeking Justice for Ohio’s Mothers
At The Becker Law Firm, we believe that Ohio’s mothers – and mothers across the nation – deserve so much more from their health care system. With access to more advanced medical technology than ever before, our hospitals have a clear duty to protect pregnant women from dying during childbirth. When they fail to meet that duty, they can and should be held accountable. Our attorneys are committed to helping our clients seek justice in the wake of tragic maternal injuries occurring during childbirth, and we’ll go to great lengths to fight for their rights.Have you or your loved ones been affected by a maternal injury occurring during childbirth? Call (440) 252-4399 to schedule an appointment with our legal team.