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New Tool Compares Rates of Severe Pregnancy Complications Across U.S. 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 team developed and validated their tool using patient discharge data for all 919,546 live births in licensed hospitals in California from 2016 to 2017. The new system also evaluates a woman’s risk for severe birth complications independent of her risk from blood transfusions alone, which tend to be less severe than other complications. These two categories match how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health professionals track maternal morbidity. With the new tool, scores range from 1 to 59 for severe maternal morbidity and 1 to 36 for non-transfusion severe maternal morbidity.

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