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Why Is Maternal Mortality So High In The United States?

Given the advances in medicine, few mothers should die in childbirth. Unfortunately, the United States is experiencing a maternal mortality crisis, which isn’t showing signs of slowing down. If your loved one died while pregnant due to complications, then you might have a medical malpractice claim.

Childbirth should be a happy time. Unfortunately, medical mistakes can lead to fatal injuries and grieving family members left behind. The Charleston, West Virginia medical malpractice lawyers at Salango Law are committed to helping new families seek justice for medical errors. If you contact us, we can meet to review the facts of your case and provide an overview of the process. Below, we answer some of the most common questions regarding maternal mortality.

What Is The Maternal Mortality Rate?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keep the most updated statistics. In 2020, 861 women died due to maternal causes, which was a jump from 754 in 2019. The CDC calculates the mortality rate by dividing the number of deaths by the number of births and multiplying this by 100,000.

In 2020, there were 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, an increase from 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019. According to The Commonwealth Fund, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has been increasing since 2000.

Is The Mortality Rate Different For Mothers Of Different Races?

Yes. Non-Hispanic black women had a maternal mortality rate of 55.3 per 100,000 live births. This number was almost three times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women. In fact, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic black women increased significantly, year over year.

Does Age Influence The Maternal Mortality Rate?

Yes. Younger women have lower mortality rates. It was:

  • Younger than 25: 13.8 per 100,000 live births
  • Aged 25-39: 22.8 per 100,000 live births
  • 40 and over: 107.9 per 100,000 live births

What Is The Maternal Mortality Rate In Other Countries?

The maternal mortality rate is very high in certain undeveloped countries, like Somalia and South Sudan. These countries lack adequate medical facilities, such as those in the U.S. These countries often lack clean water and basic medications like antibiotics. So, it is not surprising that these countries have high mortality rates.

Among developed nations, the U.S. clearly lags behind its peers. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is double the rate of other developed nations. For example, the Commonwealth Fund reported on maternal mortality using 2018 statistics. They found the following rates per 100,000 live births:

  • France: 8.7
  • Canada: 8.6
  • United Kingdom: 6.5
  • Switzerland: 4.6
  • Sweden: 4.3
  • Germany: 3.2
  • Norway: 1.8
  • New Zealand: 1.7

According to the World Health Organization, maternal mortality has been dropping around the globe—by almost 40% since 2000. This makes the increase in the U.S. during the same period so troubling.

What Causes Maternal Deaths?

There are many causes, including:

  • Bleeding. A woman might begin bleeding during delivery, which goes unnoticed by her medical team. It is possible to lose a considerable amount of blood, which puts stress on the heart, ultimately leading to a heart attack.
  • Infection. It is relatively easy to pick up an infection in a hospital. If not treated, the infection can lead to sepsis or other fatal conditions.
  • High blood pressure. Blood pressure can increase significantly during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a condition where a patient experiences high blood pressure and organ damage. It requires immediate treatment.

Unfortunately, medical error also plays a big part. A pregnant woman depends on doctors responding appropriately to the problems listed above. When a medical team fails, these conditions snowball. Many mothers die from stroke, coma, heart attacks, or infections. Others experience organ damage which ultimately proves fatal.

How Does Medical Malpractice Contribute To Maternal Mortality?

Negligent hospitals and doctors can make the situation worse by failing to follow certain protocols. We have seen mortality stem from:

  • Failure to listen to patient complaints of headache, light-headedness, or pain
  • Failure to monitor patients
  • Early discharge from the hospital
  • Delay in administering medication
  • Unsanitary conditions in a hospital leading to the spread of infections
  • Poor record-keeping or data-entry mistakes
  • Understaffing at hospitals

Many maternal deaths are preventable. Doctors and nurses must listen to patient complaints and take them seriously. They also need to respond in a timely manner. Shockingly, some patients complaining of headaches or pain are sent home, where they have a heart attack. The patient ends up back at the hospital in the back of an ambulance.

Can I Sue A Hospital Or Doctor For My Wife’s Death?

Yes, if medical malpractice contributed to the death. Doctors and hospitals must follow certain standards of care when treating pregnant patients. These standards are what competent medical professionals would do in similar situations.

For example, if a mother’s blood pressure spikes, a doctor would take immediate action to identify the reason and lower it. When medical professionals fall short of these standards, they have committed malpractice.

How Do I Know If Medical Malpractice Contributed To My Wife’s Death?

Many cases warrant an investigation. Doctors and hospitals sometimes cover up the cause of death or argue they couldn’t do anything to prevent tragedy. As seasoned West Virginia medical malpractice attorneys, we know better. We can request patient records, interview doctors and nurses, and listen to you tell your story.

What Is A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

This is a civil lawsuit for financial compensation. It aims to hold legally responsible the person or entity who caused your loved one’s death. A death caused by medical malpractice is a type of wrongful death. The personal representative for the deceased’s estate files the lawsuit, but family members receive the compensation.

Money is obviously a poor substitute for the loss of a beloved family member. But it’s all a court can award. Many of our clients will have large expenses now that a parent has died, and a wrongful death lawsuit can lessen financial stress.

Who Else Can Sue For A Pregnant Patient’s Death?

In addition to spouses, children and parents can receive compensation in many cases. In fact, any family member who is financially dependent on your lost loved one could potentially receive money. We highly recommend meeting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn more.

Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers Are Standing By

Our personal injury attorneys in Charleston at Salango Law is proud to represent families when a loved one dies due to preventable medical mistakes. We provide a compassionate, private consultation where we can review what you know about the death. We will also advise you whether you have a strong case or need more information. To schedule a time to meet, contact us today by calling (304) 342-0512.