CommunityNewsOff the Charts

45% increase in serious hospital birth complications

By: Julie Cullen

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality announced this week that women experiencing serious complications while giving birth in U.S. hospitals increased by 45% between 2006 and 2015. According to the report, among other overall trends in morbidity and mortality, the rates of acute renal failure, shock, mechanical ventilation use, and sepsis more than doubled. Here are some other statistics from the report:

  • The rate of severe complications increased 45% overall, from 101 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2006 to 147 per 10,000 in 2015.
  • Some severe conditions involved medical procedures. In 2015, for example, blood transfusions occurred with more than half of deliveries among mothers who were in shock, had an amniotic fluid embolism, were experiencing a sickle cell disease crisis, or had disseminated intravascular coagulation.
  • In 2015, rates of severe maternal morbidity were highest among poor mothers, women over age 40 years, those who were uninsured or on Medicaid, and women who lived in large urban areas.

Read the full AHRQ Statistical Brief to learn more, including steps hospitals can take to reverse this trend.


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. This has not been peer reviewed.

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