Maternal Mortality: A Call to Action

By Jamie Shuster

(The following post was originally sent as an email to DHEC Public Health staff on 1/10/14.)

You may have read in the news recently about a new effort we’re launching to find ways to make pregnancy, and the months that come after it, safer for South Carolina women.

Maternal mortality is not only a tragedy for families and communities, it’s also often avoidable. According to the CDC, nearly 50% of maternal deaths are preventable.

Unfortunately, between 2009 and 2012, 41 women died during childbirth or within six weeks of delivery in our state.

To help find solutions to this public health problem and prevent future tragedies, later this month, Director Templeton will be hosting our state’s first-ever S.C. Pregnancy-Associated Maternal Mortality Review Board.

The new Review Board will meet regularly to review and classify deaths, and to help communities identify opportunities to make pregnancy and the postpartum period safer for women.

Through this effort, we’ll be partnering with medical experts from across the state to explore systems-level issues that could be improved to decrease maternal deaths. Future systems-level changes could include creating hemorrhaging protocols, and developing procedures for identifying and treating heart disease in pregnancy statewide.

Hopefully, through our work with the Review Board, we will gain a better understanding of the problem and identify action items for the obstetric community to help reduce maternal deaths in our state.

Thank you to our Maternal Child Health team for their hard work in helping get the new committee off the ground.