Women in Kentucky may have good reason to be concerned when they go to the hospital to give birth. While the rates of maternal injury and mortality have declined dramatically in most developed countries, the same is not true of the United States. In fact, the U.S. is the developed country with the highest rate of maternal deaths and injuries, and every year, 50,000 mothers are severely injured during childbirth while 700 lose their lives.
One recent study indicated that at least one-half of all deaths could have been prevented and injuries prevented or reduced if better medical care could have been provided. The study also showed that hospital and doctor errors or delays in treatment were involved in many of these cases. The two most common complications suffered by mothers in childbirth were high blood pressure and hemorrhaging or extreme blood loss. Of the deaths caused by high blood pressure, 60 percent could have been stopped if doctors or healthcare workers had acted more quickly. In addition, 90 percent of the deaths caused by extreme blood loss could have been avoided with quicker treatment.
While treatment protocols exist that require fast treatment for women with blood loss or high blood pressure, few hospitals implement these procedures. While mothers with hypertension should receive treatment within 60 minutes, only 31 hospitals in one study said that they followed the protocol. Only nine said that they tracked how often women actually received treatment on schedule.
Even women losing life-threatening amounts of blood have gone unnoticed and untreated. Mothers may expect that childbirth will be a happy time, but when medical mistakes lead to injuries or even death, the trauma can be severe and long-lasting. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to provide guidance to women injured in childbirth about the potential to seek compensation for the harms they have suffered.