Most states falling short in probing maternal deaths, USA Today finds

The U.S. has one of the highest maternal death rates in the developed world, but the federal government does not review these deaths, and many states are coming up short in investigating what's causing them, an investigation by USA Today found.

Many state committees focus on mothers' lifestyle choices and societal ills in maternal death reports, saying women smoke too much or weigh too much, but a USA Today investigation in July found thousands of U.S. women face life-changing injuries or die during childbirth due to hospitals, physicians and nurses not following recommended procedures for care.

Despite this, state panels have only focused a fraction of their attention on hospital care quality or advocating for improvements, USA Today found.

The news outlet looked at every state to see how they review maternal deaths and read over 100 reports published by state panels. Here are three findings:

1. Fewer than 20 states that have panels examining maternal deaths identify medical care flaws, including delayed diagnoses, inadequate treatments or hospital failures to follow basic safety measures. Most reports only list statistics or highlight problems besides medical care quality.

2. Among 10 states with the highest maternal death rates, only four panels reported on medical care flaws.

3. More than a third of states are not studying maternal deaths. From 2011 to 2016, at least 1,165 pregnant women and new mothers died in the 18 states without review panels.

To view the full report, click here.

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