Today is National Patient Safety Day and I have my fellow PSMM Mary Ellen guest posting about what we, as pregnant patients, should know to be better prepared for our deliveries
Despite your political stance on the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court ruling, or any of the media frenzy surrounding this landmark legislation, healthcare providers are taking steps to ensure safer deliveries and safer care for newborns and their mothers.
The United States continues to struggle with its infant and maternal mortality rates.
As a patient safety advocate focused on newborn, maternal and pediatric health issues, I was honored to be asked to sit on the advisory board for a new 2 year statewide initiative to reduce obstetrical adverse events. I am learning more and more every day about the challenges our complex medical system gives the clinicians eager to help us and our children.
This is the side of pregnancy and childbirth that is not very fun. This is the side people want to keep hidden behind a curtain. This is the side that we need to make sure is functioning safely or we will all be crushed.
A variety of healthcare improvement and oversight organizations in Pennsylvania have been awarded grants to help reduce obstetrical adverse events. There are a myriad of events that every mother, doctor and labor & delivery nurse will want to avoid. Two specific ones are:
What is significant about the number 39?
The weeks make it significant. A new initiative spearheaded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stresses the importance of pregnancy lasting at least 39 weeks whenever possible.
For a mom who is at 36 weeks of pregnancy during a heat wave in July it means unless there is a very specific clinical reason, you need to find ways to get comfortable for at least the next three weeks.
Don’t worry about arguing it with your doctor either. Your baby is safer inside for a little bit more. If you do not understand what the difference between 37 and 39 weeks is, make sure you immediately call your obstetrician’s office and have a candid conversation with your doc or nurse.
You can also learn more here thanks to The March of Dimes.
What’s up with the letters PPH?
Well, certainly not your blood pressure. PPH stands for a most frightening of conditions of delivery – postpartum hemorrhage. This sounds particularly scary. Clinical teams are developing checklists and ways to identify patients who may be at risk for this delivery complication.
A University of Pittsburgh physician has been working diligently on this issue. You can view his recent powerpoint here.
While a mom in labor may seem to be a passive participant to some of the scarier adverse events in delivery, if she is fully engaged before delivery a more positive outcome can result.
My son died in 2001 from substandard care he received in the week following his arrival. The communication between his clinicians and myself was lacking to put it mildly. I was a mild mannered and soft spoken young mom who was raised to not question authority. The respect for doctors continues ten years later to where we put our babies lives in the hands of clinicians we have never met before, in institutions for whom we have not accustomed ourselves to their safety records, during times in the young child’s life where they are extremely fragile.
As new moms and dads we spend countless hours online and in stores researching the best, the prettiest and the safest products for our little bundles of joy. From diapers to strollers to car seats, baby food and formula (of course breast is best) – we have our list of what is best for our baby and our family. Yet how often does an expectant parent ask an obstetrician about their c-section rate? Their infection rate at the delivering hospital? The maternal mortality?
Today there are not only social networks and groups where moms and dads can get candid reviews of clinicians and hospitals. There are also evidenced based best practices information and intriguing data offered on the website of reliable oversight organizations and non profits whose goal is to improve care outcomes by educating and informing today’s healthcare consumer.
The moment you become pregnant your child has started the journey through the healthcare maze. Your child needs an advocate to be educated, informed and empowered. As mom or dad, that is your first job – your child’s patient advocate. The job starts before he/she has been issued a social security number.
There are many that want to help you.
Learn about and remember these basics:
*Build a rapport based on openness and full disclosure with your obstetrician as early as possible.
*Collaborate with your clinician for a healthy delivery AFTER 39 weeks of pregnancy
*Understand Patient & Family activated rapid response team
*Bring hospital’s Patient Advocate Office Contact number
*Never hold your baby while you both have IVs
*Ask about medications
*Maintain accurate journal of all healthcare information
*Expect healthcare personnel to identify themselves by name, position, and purpose of interaction every time