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Why Are So Many Georgia Mothers Dying?

Why Are So Many Georgia Mothers Dying?Examining maternal mortality provides valuable insights into a nation’s health. The care provided to pregnant mothers is a cultural thermometer where we can read signals of systemic issues, including inadequate healthcare quality on behalf of medical professionals. When one of these tragedies occurs, it is a horrible moment for families and shines a critical light on Georgia’s healthcare providers.

What is maternal mortality?

In Georgia, all healthcare providers must report a woman’s death during pregnancy or within 1 year of the end of pregnancy within 7 days of the event. Any death that occurs within this window is considered maternal mortality, and these death rates are on the rise in Georgia and across the country. According to Georgia Recorder,  there were “30.2 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births” between 2018 and 2020.  These statistics come from the report issued by the Georgia Department of Public Health (pg 10):

By contrast, the national maternal mortality rate in 2020, according to Yale Medicine, was 23.8. However,  an NBCNEWS report using data gathered from the JAMA Network revealed a twofold increase in the national maternal mortality rate from 1999 to 2019.  The maternal mortality rate continues to rise in the United States.

What are the most frequent causes of maternal mortality?

Childbirth has always been a dangerous business, and certain factors can increase a mother’s risk of serious or even fatal injuries:

  • Hemorrhage: Inadequate monitoring of blood loss during childbirth or delayed recognition of hemorrhage symptoms can exacerbate bleeding, leading to severe blood loss and maternal mortality.
  • Mental health conditions: Failure to properly screen for or address mental health issues during prenatal care can result in inadequate support or treatment, increasing the risk of self-neglect or harmful behaviors that contribute to maternal mortality.
  • Cardiovascular conditions: Mismanagement or failure to appropriately address pre-existing cardiovascular conditions during pregnancy can lead to complications such as uncontrolled hypertension or heart failure, heightening the risk of maternal mortality.
  • Preeclampsia/eclampsia: Inadequate monitoring or failure to recognize warning signs of preeclampsia during prenatal care can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, increasing the risk of progression to eclampsia and subsequent maternal mortality. Similarly, failure to provide timely interventions during eclamptic seizures can result in fatal outcomes for the mother.
  • Advanced maternal age: applies to mothers aged 35 or older on their estimated due date. U.S. Census data indicates a rise in the median age from 27 in 1990 to 30 in 2019 for mothers giving birth. While many women aged 35 or older have healthy pregnancies, the risk of maternal mortality increases with age. According to Yale Medicine, in 2021, the maternal mortality rate for women under 25 was 20.4 per 100,000 live births, 31.3 for women aged 25 to 39, and notably higher at 138.5 for women aged 40 and older.

The role of race in maternal mortality

While any demographic is susceptible to maternal mortality, disproportionately higher rates are found in black women nationwide, with 69.9 maternal deaths in 100,000 pregnancies.

Black pregnant women experience troubling differences in health outcomes. Even those at low risk have a higher chance of mortality compared to low-risk white women. Moreover, high-income Black mothers do worse than low-income white mothers, highlighting a potentially systemic issue that the healthcare system must be held accountable for.

According to Axios, that metric accounts for more than half of pregnancy-related deaths in America being among black women, 34% were among white women, and 7% were among Hispanic women. This report implies that implicit racial bias and discrimination accounted for 15% of all these deaths. Implicit bias, where caregivers may unknowingly let their biases influence care, poses a significant problem, impacting the quality of care provided to pregnant patients. Such an oversight from healthcare providers must be held to account, no matter the demographic affected.

How can a Savannah medical malpractice attorney help?

If a death is preventable with adequate medical care, the medical care provider must be investigated and held accountable. But time is not on your side. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice  cases is typically two years, though exceptions exist. Given the complexity and time-consuming nature of these cases, seeking legal counsel promptly is vital to ensure the strongest case.

Compensation in successful claims varies widely, encompassing economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Harris Lowry Manton LLP, an esteemed medical malpractice firm, offers you and your family the experienced guidance needed to navigate these intricate legal matters effectively. With well over $200 million in medical malpractice verdicts and settlements we are ready to fight for your family.

If your loved one has died in childbirth or in the following year, we’re here to help you seek justice in Savannah, Atlanta, and across Georgia. Call or contact us today for your free consultation.


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