Examination of usually secret patient billing records identifies U.S. hospitals with higher-than-average rates of dangerous complications
MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As part of its ongoing "Deadly Deliveries" investigation, USA TODAY, part of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), examined usually secret patient billing records from 7 million births in 13 states to identify U.S. hospitals with high childbirth complication rates. This part of the series on maternal harms focuses primarily on Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, one of at least 120 hospitals across the country where USA TODAY found that mothers suffer severe childbirth complications at rates double that of other hospitals. A related data tool allows people to find out how their local maternity hospitals fared in the states that provided data.
Women at these outlier hospitals were more than twice as likely to have had blood transfusions, hysterectomies, seizures, heart attacks, strokes or other indicators that their deliveries were far from routine. Touro's rate, for instance, was 2.8 percent - or 367 of more than 13,000 women who delivered there from 2014 to 2017.
Hospitals are quick to blame patients, saying they arrive carrying the baggage of poverty and poor prenatal care. But USA TODAY found that is only part of the story. At Touro, the data, medical records and lawsuits reveal a complicated mix of misdiagnoses, delayed care and a failure to follow safety measures.
With 700 women dying every year and about 50,000 more injured, the U.S. has the highest maternal death rate among the world's developed nations. The first part of USA TODAY's "Deadly Deliveries" investigation published in July, revealing that every year, thousands of women suffer life-altering injuries or die from childbirth because hospitals and medical workers skip safety practices known to save lives. Following that investigation, the leadership of the House Committee on Ways and Means sent letters to maternity hospitals across the country asking them to answer a series of questions and provide copies of protocols and data about mothers dying and being injured from childbirth. In December, Congress passed and the president signed into law landmark legislation to create a national program to confidentially collect and analyze standardized data on every mother's death.
"We were heartened by the calls to action to improve childbirth safety following our initial ‘Deadly Deliveries' installment and believe that putting a focus on hospitals with the highest rates could inform a road map to improvement," said Alison Young, USA TODAY investigative reporter.
"The real-life - and potentially life-saving - impact already being made by ‘Deadly Deliveries' is exactly why USA TODAY invests in investigative reporting," said Amy Pyle, USA TODAY national investigations editor.
To learn more about USA TODAY's latest investigation, visit https://maternal.usatoday.com.
About USA TODAY
Founded in 1982, USA TODAY reflects the pulse of the nation, serving as host of the American conversation by delivering high-quality, engaging content through unique visual storytelling across all platforms. A media innovator, USA TODAY reaches nearly 82 million unique visitors each month across digital platforms, with more than 25 million downloads of our award-winning app. USA TODAY also remains the nation's number one newspaper and is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI).
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Source: USA TODAY