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Lifesaving tips for a safer birth

October 15, 2018

This is the final post following the USA Today series about maternal deaths in America.  After exhaustive research to find out why women die in childbirth in America at a rate greater than in any other developed country, USA Today put together some life-saving tips to help patients, reproduced in part below:

ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF – ask these questions:

  • Does the hospital measure blood loss during and after childbirth? Hospitals should measure cumulative blood loss by weighing blood-soaked pads or by collecting blood in containers. A visual estimate — made just by looking at the blood — often winds up being low and results in treatment delays.  Ensure they’re measuring blood loss.  Doctors and nurses may be slow to notice when bleeding goes from normal to dangerous, so blood loss should be measured, not estimated.
  • Does the hospital measure blood loss for every birth?  Some hospitals only start measuring blood loss after a woman appears to be bleeding too
    much. That can lead to underestimates and delayed treatment, experts say.
  • How will the hospital assess and prepare for your risk of excessive bleeding? Staff should examine your personal risk factors. If you are at high risk, they should take steps to have matching blood ready for you. For all births, the hospital should have a “massive transfusion protocol” — essentially a game plan to ensure a mother can quickly get a large amount of blood in an emergency.
  • When did the hospital last do a hemorrhage drill? The maternity unit should conduct hemorrhage drills regularly.
  • Pay attention to blood pressure readings.  Changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy put her at greater risk from high blood pressure, also
    called hypertension, before, during and even for weeks after she delivers her baby. Severe high blood pressure conditions, including pre-eclampsia, can be deadly.
  • If I need it, does the hospital have a policy to make sure I get the right medication fast? A systolic blood pressure (the first number) of 160 or higher, or diastolic blood pressure
    (second number) of 110 or higher is dangerous — and needs urgent treatment. If your pressure is in either of these danger zones before or after delivery, nurses should retest you within 15
    minutes. If it’s still too high, pressure-lowering medication should be given within an hour to prevent a stroke.
  • Know the preeclampsia warning signs; high blood pressure during pregnancy (140/90 or greater) may signal that preeclampsia is developing; know what your blood pressure was at the start of pregnancy — particularly if it is normally low.

If you or a military dependent family member suffered injury or death from a failure to stop a hemorrhage after birth or due to a failure to treat high-blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), Brown Law can help. Our military malpractice lawyer is a former high risk labor &  delivery nurse  who has spent the last 30 years representing military families in birth injury and wrongful death cases against Army, Navy and Air Force doctors and hospitals all over the world.

Source & to read more: https://www.gannett-cdn.com/experiments/usatoday/responsive/2018/maternal-harm/graphics/life-saving-tips.pdf

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