Public Health Spotlight: Maternal Mortality Report

GAFP Staff recently discussed the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Maternal Mortality Report with Michael Lindsay, MD, MPH, Chair of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Dr. Lindsay is also an Associate Professor in Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Dr. Lindsay expanded on the goals and findings of the report as well as the important take-away messages for family physicians and other primary care providers.

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee is a multidisciplinary committee made up of representatives from various organizations including the CDC, the Georgia OBGYN Society, and the Georgia Department of Public Health. They came together after statistics from Amnesty International were released in 2010 listing Georgia as the state with the highest maternal morality rate in the country, and yet, there was no formal review process in place at the time. With support from the Georgia Legislature, the review committee formed to identify and publicize the causes of maternal death in Georgia and methods healthcare providers can employ to help reduce maternal mortality.

A full time nurse extractor aided the committee in compiling cases and data for review, and the committee met formally four times a year to review cases and determine if they were pregnancy-associated or pregnancy-related deaths, and if so, if the cause was potentially preventable.

The final Maternal Mortality Report is available for review on the Georgia Department of Public Health website. GAFP encourages all members to review the report in depth, and in particular, Dr. Lindsay highlighted three major causes of pregnancy-related deaths that primary care providers should be aware of:

Hemorrhage – hospitals should have protocols in place to rapidly recognize and treat abruptions.

Hypertension – primary care physicians are vital to helping pregnant women manage their blood pressure throughout their pregnancy and after delivery.

Cardiac Disease – women at risk for cardiomyopathy must be educated on their risk AND referred to a cardiologist for further treatment.

The committee plans to continue their work reviewing cases and releasing their findings to both providers and the public to ultimately prevent maternal mortality in Georgia.