Shocking Statistics Prove A Need For Change In Childbirth Protocols

While pregnancy and childbirth are the most natural and beautiful functions of a woman’s body, complications can occur.

In recent decades, medical advancements have increased the quality of prenatal care and allowed women to make more decisions about their childbirth experience.

But if we’re living in one of the most developed nations in the world, why is the maternal mortality rate skyrocketing?

The U.S. mortality rate of women during and after childbirth has more than doubled in the last thirty years.  Now, approximately 23 women of 100,000 who give birth die from complications.  That’s up from ten per 100,000 in 1991.

If that doesn’t “sound like a lot,” think about it in terms of annual maternal deaths – a shocking 700 women a year die during and after childbirth, and over 50,000 have life-threatening complications.

One would think that the U.S. is the safest country in the world in which to receive medical care, but there are several factors at play that make that assumption incorrect.

Poverty and lack of education lead to women not being able to afford health insurance or medical care, and for women who have access to quality care, underlying medical factors that are a direct result of our cultural lifestyles are to blame.

A third of women in the U.S. go into pregnancy overweight or obese, and this can greatly increase the incidence of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clots.

African American women are twice as likely to die in childbirth as white women, often due to lack of available, affordable prenatal care.  Lower-income women are almost always at risk.

Then there are the cases of medical negligence – rare, but tragic.  

And a case that is now being brought forward will make your blood boil.

In September of 2016, a healthy 23-year-old woman gave birth to a healthy baby, but it was the careless disregard for patient care that caused her death hours later.

Dr. Arthur Park of California is accused of medical negligence because he apparently didn’t have the time to give his patient the time her body needed to deliver the placenta naturally.

This usually occurs about a half-hour after birth as muscles relax.  The OB-GYN typically only has to minimally assist while the mother’s body expels the placenta.

But Dr. Park didn’t want to wait.  Immediately after the woman gave birth, he ripped her placenta from her womb with clamps and his hands.  

He didn’t even bother to call an anesthesiologist to administer pain medication as the woman writhed and screamed in pain.

Even the nursing staff was shocked as they witnessed the procedure, and Dr. Park even admitted that the patient was agitated.

Nurses noticed that the woman was pale and losing consciousness, but Dr. Park dismissed their concerns.  He did not order an ultrasound, did not order a blood transfusion, and did not attempt any type of medical intervention.

This young, healthy new mom was dead seven hours later.

Dr. Park had perforated the young woman’s uterus in his rushed attempt to rip her placenta from her body.  Her blood pressure dropped, and another physician admitted her to the ICU.

There, she suffered two heart attacks and could not be saved.  The cause of death was ruled “postpartum hemorrhaging from a traumatic laceration.”

A lawsuit was filed, and the California Medical Board will review the case to see if Dr. Park’s license will be suspended or revoked for good.

This is not his first incident, either.  Park was suspended from practice for three years after being accused of medical negligence in two other deliveries in the late 1990s.

It would bring little comfort to this young woman’s family – or the child she’ll never get to raise – but if this “doctor” is permanently removed from practice, it’s likely other women will be spared the same fate.

Partially due to the Park case, California hospitals are working to institute new safety protocols in maternity care.  

The experienced physicians who have put these new protocols into place have already seen dramatic results.  Between 2006 and 2012, the state’s maternal mortality rate dropped by nearly 65 percent overall, and by half in African American women.

Part of the protocol is that nurses and hospital staff must report any suspicion that a doctor is being negligent in his orders, actions, or lack of action.

What is being implemented in California is in the works in other states, and it is with great hope that the results will save more lives from circumstances that are difficult to fathom in a modern, developed nation.

What do you think of this tragic case of medical negligence, and the fact that the maternal mortality rate is so high in the U.S.?  Leave us your thoughts.