A recent study shows that women in the U.S. face the highest rate of preventable pregnancy-related deaths compared to other developed nations. Data collected by The Commonwealth Fund in 2022 also show that Black women are nearly three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women

Until U.S. healthcare policy can ensure more equitable access and better health outcomes for all women, fatalities associated with pregnancy will remain a tragic and often preventable reality for families in Michigan and across the country.

Maternal Mortality Rates in the U.S. Are High — and Increasing

In most other high-income countries, the maternal mortality rate is less than ten deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal deaths in the U.S. occur at nearly twice this rate: 20 deaths in 2019 and 24 deaths in 2020 per 100,000 live births. While COVID-19 likely contributed to some of this increase between years, the outcome difference between the U.S. and other developed countries remains astonishing.

For Black women, the discrepancy is even more staggering. African-American women in the U.S. are nearly three times as likely than white women to die in childbirth. For non-Hispanic Black women, the rate per 100,000 live births was 55 deaths in 2020 and 69 deaths in 2021. The CDC reports that many factors contribute to Black maternity mortality, including variations in healthcare quality, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.

Pregnancy-Related Deaths Are Often Preventable

American women are not only more likely than others to suffer injury or death due to pregnancy or childbirth, but in most cases, this harm is avoidable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable. 

The leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths include:

  • Mental health conditions.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Cardiac and coronary diseases.
  • Infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • Disorders related to high blood pressure.

If a loved one has died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, the details can feel overwhelming, and hospitals may not be forthcoming, especially when medical malpractice or professional negligence is to blame. But with so many preventable pregnancy-related deaths, it can help to have the review of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Pregnancy-Related Risk Factors Continue After Birth

Critically, not all pregnancy-related deaths occur at the time of birth. According to the CDC, 22 percent occur during pregnancy, 25 percent on the day of delivery or within seven days afterward, and 53 percent in the year after birth. Whether a woman has been pregnant within the previous year is a significant factor in her overall health and should form the basis for further healthcare interventions and decisions. It is crucial to ensure healthcare access for all women, particularly women of color, the year after birth.

Finding Answers

Despite the rate of childbirth emergencies and complications, the federal government does not require U.S. hospitals to disclose publicly how often people suffer death or injury during childbirth. 

Even if you have the medical diagnosis or details, it can be impossible to tell whether a pregnancy-related death resulted from medical negligence. A skilled medical malpractice attorney with experience in pregnancy-related injuries can help you pursue the answers and compensation to which you may be entitled.

Talk to a Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer Today

If you or someone you care about has suffered maternal complications or death due to medical error, the childbirth injury lawyers at Sommers & Schwartz LLP can help. Contact us today to speak with our compassionate and experienced childbirth injury lawyers.

Kenneth T. Watkins

View all posts by
Kenneth T. Watkins

Kenneth T. Watkins is an accomplished trial attorney and Senior Shareholder with Sommers Schwartz. Over the course of his career, he has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar settlements. His achievements include one of the largest seven-digit medical malpractice cases in Macomb County in 2008, and his election to membership in the exclusive Million Dollar Verdict Club.