Florida Hospital Association calls for action to reduce maternal mortality

Mid section of pregnant woman standing in corridor
Florida’s maternal mortality rate is higher than the national average.

Our country faces a national crisis affecting some of our most vulnerable communities — mothers and infants.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2021 report on Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, which showed that the number of women who died during pregnancy or shortly after has risen by 40% over the past few decades.

The CDC found that the national maternal mortality rate for 2021 was 33 deaths per 100,000 live births, the highest seen since 1965. The rate in Florida is slightly higher, at 39 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Florida’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which studies maternal deaths in Florida, reports that drug overdoses are among the most significant contributing factors to pregnancy-related deaths. More women die from drug-related deaths in Florida than all maternal complications combined.

In response to the staggering number of pregnancy-related deaths, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) this week issued a call to action to increase awareness of the issues and steps hospitals can take to address the maternal mortality public health crisis.

“For years, Florida’s hospitals have been on the front lines of caring for pregnant women and investing in education, process improvement, and best practices implementation to reduce preventable maternal deaths,” said Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the FHA, in a news release. “Today, with drug overdoses as a significant cause of maternal deaths, hospitals again are leading partners in the important work to prevent overdoses and ensure access to appropriate interventions and treatment.”

The FHA will make available educational resources, best practices, ongoing training, and sharing best practices already in place around the state.

While the focus will be on all causes of maternal death, the primary focus will be preventing overdose deaths and training emergency departments to recognize possible signs and symptoms for all causes of maternal death. Throughout the next 12 months, FHA will be working with hospitals on various strategies, such as:

— Training hospital EDs on signs and symptoms to prevent maternal deaths;

— Implementing the evidence-based Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model for all pregnant women;

— Supplying naloxone kits before discharge for pregnant women screening positive for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD);

— Implementing strategies from the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC) Opioid Recovery Effort (MORE) and their other initiatives focused on maternal health;

— Developing plans of safe care, including referrals to Healthy Start and Early Steps at the Florida Department of Health;

— Strategies to address other causes of maternal deaths.

“One maternal death is one too many. That is why the FHA Board of Trustees issued this Call to Action,” said R.D. Williams, CEO of Hendry Regional Medical Center, who chairs the FHA Quality and Patient Safety Committee. “Florida hospitals have a legacy of leadership on a number of public health issues, and reducing preventable maternal deaths is no exception.”

FHA is uniting with the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families to make available the latest strategies, support, and data to address the maternal mortality crisis in Florida.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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