CNN report on nation’s high maternal death rates spotlights success at Kaiser Permanente


The United States continues to have the highest maternal death rates of any developed countries, according to a recent CNN report, and it’s especially worrisome among African American women. But the article also notes that California has shown improvement and highlights successful best practices at Kaiser Permanente.

The article quoted 2018 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing 658 women died in the United States while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy. The death rate among black women was 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births – 3 times the rate for white and Hispanic women.

California has done better than the rest of the nation, partly due to the formation in 2006 of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), which investigates common causes of maternal deaths and then recommends policies or interventions to help reduce them. For example, hemorrhage carts similar to crash carts were created and stocked with medicines and tools. More than 95% of California hospitals now have these carts, according to the story.

Kaiser Permanente implemented several protocols and tools to improve maternal care, helping to reduce the organization’s maternal morbidity numbers. CNN talked to Permanente physician leaders Lawrence Lurvey, MD, and Michael Fassett, MD, of Southern California Permanente Medical Group about the organization’s efforts.

Dr. Lurvey, regional assistant medical director of Quality, and Women and Children’s Health for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, told CNN that a shift in thinking needs to occur in order for these practices to be adopted nationwide. “If I went back to residency – let’s say 25, 26 years ago – there was a sense in obstetrics that bad things happen and that you couldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “That’s absolutely not the case anymore.”

To read the full story, visit the CNN site.