December 12, 2012 — A sharp increase in the number of medical complications from childbirth in recent years has led many health care facilities to implement additional training for obstetricians and other staff members, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Labor and delivery-related emergencies -- including cardiac arrest, respiratory distress and kidney failure -- increased by 75% in the decade prior to 2009, according to a recent CDC study. About 52,000 of the more than four million births in the U.S. annually are affected by severe complications.
The rise can partly be attributed to an increase in high-risk pregnancies by women who are older, obese or have chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease; however, seemingly healthy women also can experience major complications. For example, caesarean section deliveries -- which have risen by almost 60% since 1996 -- can boost the risk of hemorrhage after delivery.
In an effort to decrease the number of such complications, CDC is funding programs in several states to implement guidelines for labor and delivery. In addition, hospitals are borrowing strategies from the military to train staff in teamwork and evidence-based care protocols. Emergency simulation training helps teach doctors and nurses to rapidly respond to maternal complications.
William Callaghan, author of the CDC study and leader of the agency's maternal and child health bureau, said, "Regardless of age or health, when things go wrong they can go south very fast, and you need a well-oiled team trained to respond in times of crisis" (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 12/10).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership