New tool compares rates of severe pregnancy complications across US hospitals

NIH-funded researchers have developed a new system for classifying severe maternal morbidity—life-threatening complications associated with childbirth—across U.S. hospitals. The system relies on patient discharge data to compare rates of severe maternal morbidity between different hospitals and different groups of patients. The study was led by Stephanie A. Leonard, Ph.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine and appears in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Funding was provided in part by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute of Nursing Research.

In the United States, rates of severe maternal morbidity are rising for all women and are worse among racial and ethnic minorities. Researchers studying severe maternal morbidity lack reliable ways to compare rates between groups with different underlying health statuses. According to the study authors, the new scoring system offers an advantage over current approaches. It also relies on U.S. patient discharge data, which is more readily available than electronic health records.

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