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Almost Eighty Percent of Pregnancy-Related Deaths in Texas Could Have Been Prevented

Texas was rattled back in 2016 when the state made national headlines for astronomically high maternal mortality rates. The authors of a paper detailing these rates described them as “hard to explain in the absence of war, natural disaster or severe economic upheaval.”

The study, published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, reported that 147 women died from pregnancy-related causes in 2012.

After further investigation, researchers at the Texas Department of State Health Services concluded that the original study was not entirely accurate. The new study, published in April 2018, reports that the number of maternal deaths in Texas in 2012 was actually 56. While this places Texas on middle ground compared with other states’ maternal mortality statistics, these revised rates remain unacceptably high.

The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force took a deeper dive into the data and came back with even more critical information. Per the Task Force, of all the maternal deaths in 2012, almost 80% could have been prevented.

Four specific medical complications were more likely to end in maternal death, but didn’t have to.

The Task Force considered a death to have been “preventable” if:

“…there was at least some chance of the death being avoided by one or more reasonable changes to the circumstances of the patient, provider, facility, systems, or community factors.”

The majority of deaths resulting from the following four complications—the leading causes of pregnancy-related death in 2012—could have been avoided:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Obstetric hemorrhage
  3. Infection/Sepsis
  4. Cardiomyopathy

Some women were more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than others.

Not all pregnant women in Texas in 2012 incurred the same level of risk.

Black women were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic White women to die from pregnancy-related causes. In fact, Black women had the highest pregnancy-related mortality rate of all races, regardless of income, education, marital status, or other factors.

The report also showed that most maternal deaths happened to women who were enrolled in Medicaid at the time of delivery.

Underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure were the most significant contributors to maternal mortality.

Texans who are impacted by maternal mortality can find assistance. Here’s how.

Pregnancy and childbirth are inherently risky, but mothers deserve high-quality care. If you believe the death of a mother during or shortly after childbirth resulted from medical errors that could and should have been prevented, our legal team at Hampton & King is available to review your case and discuss your right to pursue legal action.

For a personalized case evaluation, contact us today.

References

Ackerman, T. (2018, August 21). Most pregnancy-related deaths preventable, state report finds. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.houstonchronicle.com.

Baeva, S, et al. (2018). Identifying maternal deaths in Texas using an enhanced method, 2012. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000002565.

Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. (2018, September). Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and Department of State Health Services Joint Biennial Report. https://www.dshs.texas.gov/mch/maternal_mortality_and_morbidity.shtm.

 
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