Severe Maternal Morbidity Among Delivery and Postpartum Hospitalizations in the United States

Obstetrics & Gynecology: November 25, 2012

More than four million women give birth in the United States each year, nearly all of them in hospitals, making the delivery of neonates the most common reason for hospitalization.1 Some women face severe morbidity such as hemorrhage, embolism, acute renal failure, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, and other complications. Although conditions contributing to severe morbidity are rare, when applied to the large cohort of birthing women, these conditions often result in high direct medical cost, extended length of hospitalization, and long-term rehabilitation. Severe maternal morbidity is also a matter of concern for health care provider teams who are involved in the care and treatment of women during and after pregnancy and an organized national approach for the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality has recently been called for.2 As a first step, tracking severe maternal morbidity is essential for assessment of resource allocation and identification of priorities in research as well as in development of guidelines and protocols for obstetric care. Although prevention and management can be challenging, it has been suggested that focusing a lens on severe maternal morbidity can provide clinically relevant measures for quality of maternal care. Read More