For too many women in the U.S., the experience of birthing a child is an injurious experience. The trauma that many expectant mothers endure when things go wrong during labor and delivery can result in physical, mental, emotional, financial, and practical consequences for years into the future. And for far too many women in the U.S., the experience of birthing a child is proving fatal.
According to recently released federal data, the maternal death rate in the United States is continuing to rise and many experts in the medical field are seriously concerned that this trend is not going to abate any time soon. Experts who have analyzed the data indicate that the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to a dramatic spike in maternal mortality rates. Yet, it bears repeating that experts do not generally anticipate that this trend is going to reverse any time soon, even though the pandemic is being managed far more effectively than it was in 2020 and 2021.
The Scope of the Issue
According to a recent report released by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 1,200 women died as a result of maternal causes in the U.S. during 2021 alone. Given that the maternal death rate in 2018 was 658 women, it is not hard to perceive why patient safety experts are significantly alarmed by this statistic. Also alarming, is the reality that Black women are dying at a rate that is more than 2.5 times higher than White women are.
The loss of even a single woman due to preventable maternal causes is a tragedy and must be addressed. Yet, the fact that so many women are dying is cause to ring every alarm bell loud enough and long enough that the medical community takes greater notice and care.
What Is Going on?
As an experienced medical malpractice lawyer – including those who practice at Ward & Ward Law Firm – can confirm, many maternal mortality cases are legally actionable because the deaths in question have been caused – totally or in part – by the negligence or recklessness of individual providers and/or the facilities that employ them.
Some maternal deaths – like some auto accidents – are genuine tragedies that do not arise due to any particular individual or entity’s fault. However, this is rarely the case. Most of the time, when an expectant mother dies as a result of pregnancy-related challenges or birthing-related complications, the situation could have been prevented had they received appropriate care as defined by professional standards within the healthcare profession.
As a result, it will largely be up to the healthcare industry to take the steps that will be required to reverse this maternal mortality trend. This is also one of the reasons why surviving loved ones should not hesitate to seek legal guidance in the wake of a preventable loss. By holding healthcare providers and facilities to account when their actions or inactions result in a woman’s death, they may be inspired to move more quickly and with greater intention to address the problems at hand.