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Gaps in nurses' knowledge fuels increases in maternal mortalities

A recent investigation was conducted to try to shed more light on why there have been increases in rates of maternal death in the United States. Researchers have found evidence to suggest that medical professionals are often too slow in identifying warning signs that new mothers are not healing as well as they should be following a birth.

Another study suggests that many postpartum nurses lack necessary expertise about the risks of injury or death new mothers face as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries. While less than 900 women lose their lives each year while either pregnant, during childbirth or immediately thereafter, some 65,000 almost do.

The mothers most at risk are African American and those residing rural parts of the country. CDC officials have noted that they believe that as many as 60 percent of these deaths could have be easily prevented.

Of the more than 350 postpartum nurses polled, only 24 percent were aware that heart problems were responsible for in excess of 25 percent of new mothers' deaths. Those same respondents noted that they felt least comfortable in educating their patients about the risks associated cardiovascular conditions.

Among two of the more risky ones, there is high blood pressure during pregnancy, also known as pre-eclampsia, or blood clots forming in the lungs. These majority of these postpartum nurses noted that they felt so uncomfortable discussing these conditions that they only did so when needed and for less than 10 minutes when they did.

Researchers note that more research needs to be done to identify ways to educate mothers about how to care for themselves during the postpartum period. They note that this is particularly important because moms often aren't seen by doctors for a month or more after giving birth. In an least 40 percent of all cases, women don't seek follow-up care. This leaves a lot of them vulnerable to suffering maternal deaths.

If your health declined significantly while you were pregnant or you failed to recover as expected after delivering your child, then your nurse or doctor may have failed to properly diagnose you. In learning more about your case, a Toledo medical malpractice attorney can advise you of your right to seek damages in your legal matter.

Source: National Public Radio, "Many Nurses Lack Knowledge Of Health Risks To Mothers After Childbirth," Nina Martin, ProPublica, accessed Sep. 20, 2017

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