US government should standardize maternal care practices across hospitals to reduce disparities, new report says

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The federal government can play an influential role in reducing racial disparities in maternal health outcomes, according to a Sept. 15 report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  

 

The report assessed the role the federal government plays in addressing racial disparities in maternal health, including negative pregnancy-related health outcomes and deaths of women in the U.S.

 

Five key report takeaways:

 

  1. Black women in the U.S. are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women in the U.S.
  2. Native American women are more than two times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women in the U.S.
  3. The above disparities have become more severe over the last 30 years. 
  4. The federal government improving access to quality maternity care for women is critical in reducing disparities, according to testimony received by the commission. This would include preconception and interconception care to manage chronic illness and optimize health; prenatal care; delivery care; and postpartum care for 12 months post-delivery.
  5. "At the federal level efforts can be made to improve hospital quality, particularly for women of color if maternal health disparities are to be eliminated," said Norma Cantú, PhD, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "Improvements in safety culture are linked with improved maternal health outcomes. One recommendation for improving safety in maternal healthcare is to implement standardized care practices across hospitals and health systems and to standardize data collection systems."

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