U.S. death rate for mothers during labor, delivery, and birthing is on the rise


Houston OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician describes it as a failure at all levels

August 6, 2018

In the past 25 years, the death rate for mothers during childbirth has skyrocketed in the United States. In contrast, during the same time, the death rate in most other developed nations has either dropped or remained steady. According to research published in the acclaimed medical journal Lancet, the U.S. rate for maternal deaths between 1990 and 2015 rose from around 17 to 26.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.

In Texas, hospitals perform even worse. For 2012 through 2016, Texas had 34.5 mothers die per 100,000 births. In 2015, the Texas harm rate was 161 per 10,000 deliveries.

If you are like me, you are wondering what we are doing wrong in the United States. USA Today quoted Professor Steven Clark, M.D., Director of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine as saying, “Our medicine is run by cowboys today, where everyone is riding the range doing whatever they’re wanting to do. It’s a failure at all levels, at national organization levels and at the local hospital leadership levels as well.”

Medical research has long established that there are some simple interventions that hospitals, physicians, and nurses can do to protect the lives of mothers during labor, delivery, and post-birth. Many of them are simple and inexpensive. And many hospitals largely ignore them. Two treatments are commonly disregarded, with dangerous consequences for patients.

One common issue involves assessing and timely treating bleeding. Healthcare providers have long known that mothers have an increased risk of bleeding during labor, delivery, and birthing. An easy way to monitor maternal patients and see whether they are bleeding is to weight the pads used to soak up blood. The higher the weight, the more bleeding the patient will experience, and the faster doctors and nurses can step in with life-saving treatment.

When excessive bleeding is not promptly recognized and treated, blood flow can be cut off to organs, causing failure, and can even lead to death. Some experts say that over 90% of deaths could be avoided by simply measuring blood loss.

Another common issue is monitoring and treating high blood pressure. When blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels, it should be immediately treated with medications to lower and stabilize hypertension. Failing to do so timely can cause a stroke. Preeclampsia is a particularly severe type of maternal high blood pressure during pregnancy that can place the lives of the baby and mother at risk.

They should be giving medication within an hour of spotting dangerously high blood pressure to fend off strokes.

The truth is that having a baby at a U.S. or Texas hospital can be dangerous. The USA Today put it like this, “Today, this is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.”

In my experience as a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, lax policies and procedures and medical errors that endanger mothers, babies, and newborns happen at all types of hospitals. I have handled medical negligence lawsuits involving small hospitals, large hospitals, medical centers, academic/teaching hospitals, and big city, rural, and suburban facilities.

We are here to help

If you, or a loved one, or your newborn/baby has been seriously injured during labor, delivery, and birthing, then you should hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer immediately.

I have handled all kinds of maternal injury and death lawsuits and birth injury lawsuits, including delayed delivery, preeclampsia, fetal distress, ruptured placenta, ruptured uterus, and maternal fetal hemorrhage, among others, that caused brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Painter Law Firm is here to help you. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.


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