Preventing maternal deaths

Pre-existing medical conditions place women at greater risk for death during or just after pregnancy, according to today’s Joint Commission Alert.

And the commission reports that current trends and evidence suggest that maternal mortality rates, or deaths that occur within 42 days of birth or termination of pregnancy – though rare -may be on the rise in the U.S.

Current statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that for every 100,000 live births, 13.3 maternal deaths occur. That’s well over the target of 3.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births– which is one goal of the U.S. Government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative.

Read about the initiative’s “do’s and don’ts” of pregnancy here.

Common preventable causes that lead to maternal deaths include uncontrolled high blood pressure, undiagnosed fluid build-up in the lungs of women with pre-eclampsia, failure to pay attention to vital signs after a Cesarean section, and hemorrhage following a Cesarean section.

Today’s Alert calls for doctors to refer their at-risk patients to experienced prenatal care providers who can provide specialized services.

The Joint Commission is a non-profit, independent organization and the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Read more about the alert here.

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