Many questions remain about maternal mortality in Ohio, so what are next steps?

We are reading and seeing personal stories from across the nation of women suffering from complications of pregnancy and families who have lost mothers, babies or both. Back in April, The Center for Community Solutions began to review existing maternal mortality and morbidity data in Ohio. The most recent data available from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) shows us that between 2008 and 2014, there were 408 pregnancy-associated deaths and of those, 154 were pregnancy-related (read our April blog post for a refresher on what these terms mean) with vast disparities in the rate of morbidity between white and non-white women in Ohio. Click To Tweet

Between 2008 and 2014, there were 408 pregnancy-associated deaths and of those, 154 were pregnancy-related.

So what are the next steps? First, we’re awaiting updated information on maternal mortality and morbidity in Ohio to better understand trends. What we have learned so far from Ohio’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) is that collecting and reviewing this data can be challenging due to delays in receiving it and PAMR not always receiving complete information. In order to collect information when a pregnancy-associated death occurs, ODH sends a letter requesting information about the death to hospitals, medical providers, emergency medical services, mental health and addiction providers, law enforcement officers, coroners and others who may have been involved in the care of the woman who died. It is important for complete data on pregnancy-associated deaths to be submitted to PAMR, but that doesn’t always occur and if it does, there is often a time lag.

It is important for complete data on pregnancy-associated deaths to be submitted to Ohio’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review, but that doesn’t always occur and if it does, there is often a time lag.

Second, Community Solutions will soon explore what changes should be made to state law to require the reporting of information in a timely and complete manner. There are existing laws related to reviews of child fatalities that set requirements around the collection of information associated with child fatalities and require an annual report to be released through ODH. This report can also include recommended changes to law and/or policy that seek to prevent future deaths. Ultimately, these review committees, whether they are for child fatalities or pregnancy-associated deaths, aim to learn from deaths that occur so that future deaths can be prevented. Ideally, updated, annually released information, can also better help to prevent future pregnancy-associated deaths.

Looking ahead, as more light continues to be shed on maternal health issues, Community Solutions will continue to track what is happening in Ohio, and take what we learn to inform policy change and improve conditions for Ohio women and their families.