How providers play a role in reducing maternal mortality rates and racial disproportionality

‘Health care providers play a key role in maternal mortality prevention, and it starts with truly listening to your patients’ concerns.’

Black people are nearly 3 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white people, and the alarming rate of maternal mortality and the racial gap in pregnancy loss and pregnancy-related deaths are nationwide public health concerns.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on maternal mortality rates shows 861 people in the U.S. died due to pregnancy-related complications in 2020, and the rates for non-Hispanic Black women were “significantly higher” than rates for non-Hispanic white women and Hispanic women.

Racial disproportionality in maternal mortality rates

A 2020 study, “Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health: An Overview,” examined data on maternal mortality in the U.S.

A Black mother with a college education is at 60% greater risk for a maternal death than a white or Hispanic woman with less than a high school education… While educational advancement is typically seen as protective in terms of health, that’s not the case for Black mothers,” the authors of that study found.

According to  the CDC,  disproportionate death rates could be related to several factors, including access of care, quality of care, prevalence of chronic diseases, structural racism and implicit biases. Studies show more pregnant people have chronic health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, which also can put someone at greater risk of pregnancy-related complications.

How providers can help reduce maternal mortality

Providers should help patients manage their chronic conditions or any issues that may come up during pregnancy, including physical and mental health concerns. Patients also should know the urgent warning signs of a maternal medical emergency. Providers must recognize unconscious bias in themselves and their office, according to the CDC.

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To refer a patient to Norton Women’s Care, visit Norton EpicLink and choose EpicLink referral to Obstetrics/Gynecology.

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“Health care providers play a key role in preventing maternal mortalitynd it starts with truly listening to your patients’ concerns,” said Crystal D. Narcisse, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics physician with Norton Community Medical Associates. “Make sure you are taking their worries seriously and ensuring they feel heard and understood.”

How Norton Healthcare is supporting patients

Various initiatives and programs are in place to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates and help improve health outcomes for Norton Healthcare patients.

“Norton Women’s Care has taken intentional steps to support our patients throughout their pregnancy, delivery and postpartum,” said Lyndsey D. Neese, M.D., MMM, FACOG, OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care and medical director of quality for women’s services at Norton Healthcare.

Norton Women’s Care has implemented the following initiatives:

  • A partnership with Park DuValle Community Health Center to provide quality OB/GYN care in underserved areas
  • Implementation of emergency obstetric hypertension and hemorrhage protocols and supplies at Norton Healthcare facilities where there is not a labor and delivery unit
  • Hemorrhage carts located in labor and delivery and mother and baby units
  • Emergency training for all obstetrics staff and providers, including drills with state-of-the-art patient simulator “Victoria”
  • Norton Women’s Doula Program is available at no cost to patients who have certain health conditions and live in the California, Portland or Russell neighborhoods
  • Norton Maternal Opiate and Substance Treatment (MOST) Program, for pregnant patients with substance use disorders
  • An ongoing initiative to reduce cesarean sections
  • Implemented low-dose aspirin therapy for all pregnant women at risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension to prevent this complication

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