In a recent USA Today article, Alison Young discusses the USA Today Deadly Deliveries Investigation and the launching of the House Ways and Means Committee investigation.
Alison Young, USA TODAY Published 6:10pm ET October 10,2018
Leaders of a powerful Congressional committee are asking the operators of hundreds of U.S. maternity hospitals to answer sweeping questions about mothers dying and being injured from childbirth – and what actions they are taking to reduce those numbers.
In letters sent Wednesday to major hospital systems across the country, the leadership of the House Committee on Ways and Means expressed concern about the rising rate of mothers dying in the United States and called for hospitals to answer a series of questions and provide its investigators with copies of their childbirth safety protocols and data on mothers’ deaths and injuries.
The action follows a USA TODAY investigation in July that found that every year thousands of women suffer life-altering injuries or die from childbirth because hospitals and medical workers skip safety practices known to save lives. When USA TODAY repeatedly contacted 75 hospitals in 13 states to learn whether or not they are following certain nationally recognized safety practices – half wouldn’t answer the questions.
USA TODAY’s work was cited by the committee in announcing its own investigation.
“It’s clear that there are warning lights that are flashing and we need to understand what’s causing this,” said Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Illinois, chairman of the committee’s health subcommittee.
The committee’s letter asks hospitals to describe what they are doing to identify women at risk of childbirth complications, how they are tracking and reviewing pregnancy-related deaths and severe harms, and to what extent they are participating in programs that seek to standardize and improve childbirth safety practices. It asks for systems to disclose to the committee information about for each of its birthing hospitals, including the number of babies delivered in 2017, and the number, racial demographics and causes of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal harms for that year.