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Report Spotlights Inconsistent Obstetric Care and Preventable Birth Traumas

pregnant woman having backacheAny family of a child who suffered a serious injury or death during labor and delivery can attest to the agonizing aftermath that inevitably follows. When death occurs, parents are left to cope with extraordinary grief and a loss of hope, while severe injuries often leave them with a future characterized by developmental struggles, emotional distress and mounting medical bills.

A recent report published by advocacy organization Public Citizen, however, does provide a degree of optimism about the ability of medical providers to develop effective solutions to the root causes of such birth trauma. The report touts substantial gains in safety achieved by facilities that have taken a comprehensive approach to such issues. However, the research also notes that the highly inconsistent degree to which such proven practices have been adopted across the nation leave tremendous room for improvement before these tragedies will truly be in decline.

Progress seen in numerous healthcare organizations

According to Public Citizen, commendable results in this realm have been achieved by four healthcare organizations in particular, primarily by researching and then adhering to best practices which, if adopted everywhere, could make an extremely positive difference in childbirth outcomes throughout the country.

Especially impressive statistics include:

  • Premier Inc.’s 74 percent reduction of preventable birth injuries in full-term babies across 16 of its medical facilities;

  • A 50 percent reduction in span of two years of neonatal fatalities at all Ascension Health facilities;

  • New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center’s declaration that brain traumas caused by oxygen deprivation in labor and delivery were observed at a rate measuring 98 percent lower than that in the country as a whole;

  • Data from Hospital Corporation of America demonstrating that maternal death resulting from post-cesarian pulmonary embolism was reduced by 86 percent.

Though these statistics certainly appear to be evidence of positive shift, the report also indicated that obstetrical care in the United States continues to be disturbingly uneven and inconsistent, largely because the practices leading to the successful outcomes listed above are not followed across the board. While the achievements of many healthcare organizations in reducing birth trauma are undoubtedly impressive, they do not provide relief to parents whose infants have been subjected to severe harm elsewhere due to preventable negligence on the part of labor and delivery physicians and staff.

Inconsistent adoption of effective safety measures troubles experts

The Public Citizen report underscores the fact that obstetrical experiences in American hospitals tend to vary, often quite wildly. According to statistics discussed in the release, low-performing facilities subjected mothers and babies to a risk of harmful complications that was 2-5 times greater than that of high-performing hospitals. In addition, C-section birth rates among the spectrum of healthcare providers ranged from 7.1 percent to nearly 70 percent of all categories of delivery, and from 2.4 percent to over 36 percent of low-risk deliveries. The apparent absence of standard obstetrical practices and a willingness among physicians to place scheduling and convenience above patient safety have caused alarm among experts and have sparked a push for adoption of uniform protocols that have already been proven to work.

Universal acceptance of obstetrical protocols urged

Sadly, life-altering labor and delivery injuries as well as deaths still happen with unacceptable frequency, leaving families to pick up the pieces. The Public Citizen report will hopefully increase awareness of the real need for greater standardization of safety measures across all facilities. Training intended to facilitate better communication among medical staff, regular use of trauma simulations, reduction in early-elective deliveries and a renewed emphasis on scientific evidence in cesarean delivery decision making can all combine to reduce the incidence of devastating infant injury and death.

Legal help for families affected by birth injuries

If your family has experienced the profound heartbreak of watching your infant struggle with severe injuries, or you have lost a baby to preventable medical negligence during labor and delivery, we at Eisbrouch Marsh want to help. A New Jersey birth injury lawyer with our firm stands prepared to fight not only for the financial recovery you deserve, but also for justice and accountability.

 We invite you to put our decades of experience and track record of success to work for you. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 201-342-5545.

 

  1. Public Citizen, Solutions in Sight, http://www.citizen.org/documents/obstetrics-healthcare-safety-report.pdf
  2. Public Citizen, Safety Initiatives Show Remarkable Success at Reducing Infant and Maternal Fatalities and Injuries Related to Childbirth, http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=5440
  3. Huffington Post, Basic Safety Programs Dramatically Cut Tragedies in Childbirth, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-lincoln/basic-safety-programs-dra_b_6894638.html