As you spent months picking out the perfect name and getting the nursery just right, you could not have known that you were also preparing for one of the worst experiences of your life. Like most people in New Jersey, you understood that pregnancy and childbirth are complicated, but you probably trusted the medical community to meet any problems head-on. Unfortunately, a shockingly high number of women are dying from pregnancy-related complications every year.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control detailed just how bad the problem is. Maternal health in the United States is in extremely poor shape. Not only does the U.S. have a high pregnancy mortality rate compared to other developed nations, but those mortality rates have not improved at all over recent years.
Women are dying
The CDC reported that pregnancy-related complications cause the death of approximately 700 women every year. So if the problem is so big and has been going on for quite some time, why did it take the CDC so long to report on it? It is partly because the system for tracking data for pregnancy complications and related deaths is far from as effective as it should be.
However, the CDC was finally able to collect enough data to not only estimate the number of pregnancy fatalities per year, but to also uncover another horrifying data point. Most of these maternal deaths are entirely preventable. The CDC's current estimate says that for every five maternal deaths, three could have been prevented.
It can happen after giving birth
Pregnancy-related deaths can be a misleading term. You might think that it only applies to women whose complications caused their deaths during either pregnancy or labor. The actual fatality statistics break down much differently. Only around 33% of pregnancy-related deaths happen while a woman is actually pregnant.
Another 33% of these deaths occur either during labor or in the week that follows. The final one-third of deaths can happen all the way up to a year after giving birth. Cardiomyopathy and other forms of cardiovascular conditions that developed during pregnancy are usually the main cause of pregnancy-related deaths that occur between a week and a year after labor and birth.
Physicians are failing women and their families
Women look to their physicians to provide the absolute best care both during and after their pregnancies. The CDC stated that physicians should identify their patients suffering from chronic conditions well before their lives end up at risk, but this is clearly not happening. Even worse, some patients might approach their doctor with valid concerns only for their doctors to ignore them.
Nothing could replace the life of a lost loved one, but surviving family members can still benefit from taking careful action. When New Jersey families successfully pursue medical malpractice claims, they can achieve necessary compensation for addressing funeral expenses, medical bills, emotional damages, lost wages and much more. It can also provide a much-needed sense of justice for pregnancy-related complications and deaths. If you or your family need help getting started or demonstrating a health care provider's negligence, consider speaking with an attorney well versed in medical malpractice.