LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK
State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-134th, met at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest July 20 with Dr. Amanda Flicker, chief of the Division of Obstetrics and OB-GYN residency program, to discuss his recently enacted state law creating a maternal mortality review committee and how the new committee can help save lives of expectant mother and babies.
Mackenzie said 32 states currently have maternal mortality review committees either in operation or in development. Mackenzie said the Pennsylvania committee will be charged with identifying pregnancy-related deaths, overseeing the review of these deaths and recommending action to help prevent future deaths and publishing review results.
Mackenzie cited statistics which show more women in the United States die from pregnancy complications than in any other developed country in the world. He said that despite advances in medicine and medical technologies, the U.S. saw a 26 percent increase in the death rate of expectant mothers from 2000 to 2014, and according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, Pennsylvania ranks 21st in the nation in maternal death rates.
He said the new law seeks to improve health outcomes for pregnant women.
“In order to combat the current tragic statistics,” Mackenzie said, “we need to be more proactive in our education of medical professionals and information sharing when it comes to preventable conditions like preeclampsia and obstetric hemorrhaging.
“In addition, we are finding that mental health conditions, including suicide and overdose, are also becoming a leading cause of maternal mortality in a growing number of states.”
Mackenzie said the information gathered by the increasing number of state review committees will then be used to help clinicians and public health professionals better understand circumstances surrounding pregnancy-related deaths helping them take appropriate actions to prevent them.
He said the idea to sponsor legislation to form a review committee was brought to him by a group of medical residents in his district who are members of the Pennsylvania Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.