Mississippi looks to track deaths of pregnant women

Mississippi looks to track deaths of pregnant women

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The Mississippi State Department of Health may start tracking mother mortality rates and reasons in an effort to track and treat preventable deaths.

Rep. Toby Barker (R-Hattiesburg) filed House Bill 494 Friday, which would create a Mother Mortality Review Committee for Mississippi to review maternal deaths and create strategies to prevent them.

"Like we monitor infant deaths and child deaths, we consider pregnancy to be an important and sensitive time that we can employ strategies to help reduce the risk of moms dying and improve their health, though, really the goal is to bring together experts in the state and make better sense of what's going on," said Dr. Charlene Collier, Perinatal Health Consultant for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).

Collier said the Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are recommending states start tracking women who die during or just after pregnancy to hopefully stop preventable deaths.

"Mississippi, like other states, particularly in the south, have seen this rising rate of maternal death," Collier said. "We're not really entirely sure all of the causes, but the review committee can be really central in understanding those causes and identifying strategies for improvement on the public health level, as well as clinic intervention."

Barker said, "It's worth the effort to try and gather actual data and try to pinpoint, you know, is this by region? Is there a particular cause that's really driving this? And then try to go out and solve that problem."

Collier there are several specific areas she would want the group to track.

"Three leading causes of preventable maternal death relate to hemorrhage, high blood pressure or preeclampsia or blood clots," she said. "Those are the types of deaths we really want to look into because we know there are strategies that are effective for hospitals and clinicians and mothers to take that reduce those particular preventable deaths. So we are particularly interested in those. Certainly, hemorrhage directly relates to how mom gives birth and C-section rates, so we're interested in that. Preeclampsia and high blood pressure certainly relates to a lot of mothers' chronic health conditions and things like obesity, so we are interested in particularly in ones like those."

The additional committee would cost the state nothing to create or run.

"This would not cost any money," said Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall). "It would just simply be added under the state department of health's purview, and those records would be kept there and would be reviewed by the medical professionals at the state department of health to see if there are any patterns that have developed or any ways that we could probably strengthen the protections for mothers in the state of Mississippi."

Collier said, "Current staff, like myself, would be the ones managing it, and the panel committee members would really be volunteers, experts from around the state, yeah, no there's no cost attached to it."

Collier said the program is strictly informational, and the data would be protected from any kind of legal review. Barker hopes that promotes more information sharing.

"All we're doing it gathering data," Barker said. "What we've done is allowed doctors and hospitals and other practitioners a way to send their data in without liability, which will hopefully encourage more data sharing and encourage more solutions."