With the nation’s childbirth complication rates at 700 deaths and over 50,000 injuries per year, it’s becoming more and more critical that pregnant women research the childbirth facilities and obstetricians they plan to use for the delivery of their child.
Yet maternal morbidity and mortality rates for U.S. hospitals have been hard to come by – until now. On Saturday, USA Today released results from a study examining 7 million births in hospitals across 13 states. And the findings have soon-to-be-parents concerned.
Out of 1,027 hospitals examined between 2014 and 2017, one out of eight hospitals exhibited far higher rates of severe maternal complications.
Women visiting these hospitals for childbirth were more than twice as likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks, and seizures. Some hospitals showed more than double the rates of blood transfusions, hysterectomies, misdiagnoses, and untreated preeclampsia.
Mothers suffered dangerous infections requiring amputation of limbs, near death from blood loss, pulmonary embolisms from failure to receive anti-clotting medications, and respiratory failure due to unmonitored pain medications.
In many cases, medical staff either missed signs of danger or were aware of emergency situations but failed to respond.
USA Today’s study measured the risk of maternal complication using the severe maternal morbidity (“SMM”) rate, a method the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to calculate how often women experience severe complications during childbirth.
The median SSM rate for all hospitals studied was 1.4%. Disturbingly, 120 hospitals had risks of maternal complications that were at least twice that of the average, with the worst hospital in the study scoring 12%.
Just three of the 15 New York City hospitals listed in the database had SMM rates that fell below the 1.4% median SMM rate. Mount Sinai Beth Israel had the most impressive SMM rate of 1.0%, with Mount Sinai West and New York Presbyterian Allen Hospital falling close behind (both at 1.1%).
Five of the 15 New York City hospitals had SMM rates of more than double the median U.S. rate. NYC Health + Hospitals Metropolitan received the worst NYC hospital SMM rate at 7.5% – more than five times the median U.S. rate.
Other poor-scoring New York City hospitals included NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue (4.4%), New York Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center (3.5%), New York University Langone Medical Center Tisch Hospital (3%), and NYC Health + Hospitals Harlem (2.9%).
Several hospitals who scored SSM rates of over 2.8% claimed that the problem isn’t with their maternity unit doctors or safety practices but is instead a result of demographics - their patient population coming from poor neighborhoods and having pre-existing medical conditions.
However, the study found that the high SSM rate hospitals assisted patients of every race, economic level, and medical condition.
So, it isn’t the patient population that’s at fault for the unacceptable maternal complication rates. Rather it’s a frightening rate of delayed responses to emergencies, inadequate caregiver experience, and failure to follow safety protocol.
Of the 120 high SMM rate hospitals, nearly half were university hospitals or other sites that train a large number of inexperienced OB/GYN residents, a problem cited in many cases of mishandled childbirths.
Study results suggest that over half of the women’s deaths and severe injuries could have been avoided with higher quality medical care.
Complications during childbirth are frightening and can lead to devastating injuries or death. Our nation’s hospitals have no excuse to provide patients with anything less than the best medical care possible.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a doctor or hospital’s medical negligence in Garden City, the Bronx, Hauppauge, Brooklyn, or elsewhere in New York City, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice suit for recovery, including past and future medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, or wrongful death compensation.
Contact New York City childbirth malpractice attorney Joseph Awad today for a free and confidential discussion of your case.