Every year in this country, about 700 women die during or soon after giving birth, making this the most dangerous nation in the developed world to have a baby.
Far more women – 50,000 – narrowly survive childbirth. And women who are poor or African American are at greatest risk of life-threatening complications such as hemorrhage or stroke.
Here in the Philadelphia region, the severe complication rate for 2014 through 2017 ranged from a low of 0.3 percent at Paoli Hospital. Bryn Mawr Hospital, and Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton, to a high of 3.3 percent at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City.
Experts caution that these rates alone aren’t enough to judge the quality of hospital care, but until now, the public had no way to even know what the rates are.
Calling it “the secret number maternity hospitals don’t want you to know, USA Today last week published the severe complication rates for all maternity hospitals in 13 states, including Pennsylvania. Investigative journalists used hospital billing data and the formula created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to calculate overall rates, plus those for African American women and low-income (Medicaid) patients.
The median (midpoint) rate of severe complications for the 13 states was 1.4 percent. Pennsylvania’s median rate was lower, 1.1 percent.