US maternal mortality highest among industrialized nations


Nurses lack knowledge of postpartum health risks

US maternal mortality highest among industrialized nations

Trévon Austin

25 August 2017

An estimated 700 to 900 women die in the US every year from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, the highest rate among industrialized nations. Another 65,000 nearly die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A study released last week published in MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing indicates that postpartum nurses are not being properly educated on the dangers mothers face after giving birth. Lacking sufficient education, the nurses are unable to play the critical role in identifying potential warning signs of postpartum complications and taking precautionary measures.

A recent CDC Foundation analysis of data from four states found that close to 60 percent of maternal deaths were preventable. By failing to properly alert mothers to postpartum risks, nurses may be missing an opportunity to reduce the abysmal maternal mortality rate.

MCN researchers surveyed 372 postpartum nurses around the United States. According to the study, only 15 percent of respondents were aware of the current maternal mortality rate and 12 percent accurately reported the correct percentage of deaths occurring during the postpartum period. Eighty-eight percent of nurses could not identify the three leading causes of maternal mortality: postpartum bleeding (15 percent), complications from unsafe abortion (15 percent), and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (10 percent).

On the day that mothers were discharged, 67 percent of respondents reported spending less than 10 minutes focusing on potential warning signs, such as painful swelling, headaches, heavy bleeding and breathing problems that could indicate…

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