New issues of Sentinel Event Alert, Quick Safety address maternal health, health equity and mental health
In June 2022, the White House issued a report stating that the United States is facing a maternal health crisis. The Joint Commission has been actively working to help address the myriad and complex causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.
A new issue of Sentinel Event Alert delves into eliminating barriers and racial disparities causing mortality and morbidity in pregnant and postpartum patients, while a new, complementary issue of Quick Safety addresses mental health conditions and their role in maternal death.
The U.S. has the highest mortality rate for pregnant and postpartum patients among developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, that rate increased by 18% in 2020 – from 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 23.8 in 2020. In 2020, 861 pregnant or postpartum patients died from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. compared to 754 in 2019. A prepandemic report from Maternal Mortality Review Committees conducting a thorough review of pregnancy-related deaths in 36 U.S. states determined that 80% of them were preventable.
Read more — including actions The Joint Commission asks organizations to consider — in Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 66: Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities causing mortality and morbidity in pregnant and postpartum patients.
Additionally, a recent report from the CDC evaluating causes for maternal death indicated issues related to mental health, such as depression, anxiety, death by suicide, and substance use disorders (SUDs) as the most frequent underlying cause, followed by clinical conditions. This finding signals the need for health care organizations to have a process to screen all pregnant patients for risk factors using evidence-based tools so that appropriate interventions may be instituted in a timely and ongoing manner.
Learn more — including safety actions to consider — in Quick Safety, Issue 67: Mental health conditions leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths.