USA TODAY Analysis Finds High Childbirth Complication Rates In Some U.S. Hospitals

A USA TODAY article entitled “Hospitals blame moms when childbirth goes wrong. Secret data suggest it’s not that simple” stated that “[a] USA TODAY analysis of billing data from 7 million births found about one in eight hospitals have complication rates of at least double the norm.” Childbirth complication rates at most hospitals were less than 1.5 percent.

The USA TODAY article stated: “For years, hospitals have blamed rising maternal deaths and injuries on problems beyond their control. Almost universally they’ve pointed to poverty and pre-existing medical conditions as the driving factors in making America the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth. That narrative shifts the focus away from examining how doctors and nurses perform in maternity units … a USA TODAY investigation shows … [t]he data, medical records and lawsuits suggest a complicated mix of misdiagnoses, delayed care and a failure to follow safety measures.”

USA TODAY analyzed billing records from 7 million births in 13 U.S. states and found 120 hospitals where mothers suffer severe complications at far higher rates: “Women at these outlier hospitals were more than twice as likely to have had blood transfusions, hysterectomies, seizures, heart attacks, strokes or other indicators that their deliveries turned deadly.” Of the 120 high-complication hospitals identified by USA TODAY’s analysis, at least 56 are training sites for OB/GYN residency programs, and 22 of them have accreditation histories that include warnings, probation or both.

Pregnancy and childbirth is the number two reason for hospitalization in the United States. Seven hundred women die in the United States every year during childbirth, and 50,000 women are injured during childbirth every year. Black mothers are dying from childbirth at three to four times the rate of white mothers in the United States, and they suffer severe complications twice as often. An expert told USA TODAY, “We all think we’re giving great care and we are treating everybody equally. The data doesn’t support that.”

USA TODAY analyzed nearly one-half of the deliveries nationwide over the past four years for indicators of severe childbirth complications. The analysis found complications at 1,027 hospitals.

The USA TODAY article acknowledges, “There are reasons some hospitals might have higher rates. Poor women often have less consistent access to prenatal care. Black mothers are more likely than white mothers to have hypertension, blood disorders and other conditions that complicate pregnancies. A couple dozen of the hospitals are specialty centers that care for women with extreme underlying health problems.”

However, “at the 120 hospitals with the highest severe complication rates, it wasn’t only poor women or black women who experienced life-threatening deliveries more often … [w]hite mothers at the outlier hospitals were three times as likely to experience potentially fatal complications. The complication rates also were higher for mothers with health insurance.”

The USA TODAY analysis found that among hundreds of hospitals where two-thirds of mothers giving birth were on Medicaid, only one in five had complication rates twice the norm, and nearly 100 of those hospitals’ rates were below the median.


If you or your baby suffered a birth injury (or worse) during labor and/or delivery in the United States, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find birth injury attorneys in your state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 at 5:29 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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