Obstetric Care Consensus No. 5: Severe Maternal Morbidity

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Abstract

This document builds upon recommendations from peer organizations and outlines a process for identifying maternal cases that should be reviewed. Severe maternal morbidity is associated with a high rate of preventability, similar to that of maternal mortality. It also can be considered a near miss for maternal mortality because without identification and treatment, in some cases, these conditions would lead to maternal death. Identifying severe morbidity is, therefore, important for preventing such injuries that lead to mortality and for highlighting opportunities to avoid repeat injuries. The two-step screen and review process described in this document is intended to efficiently detect severe maternal morbidity in women and to ensure that each case undergoes a review to determine whether there were opportunities for improvement in care. Like cases of maternal mortality, cases of severe maternal morbidity merit quality review. In the absence of consensus on a comprehensive list of conditions that represent severe maternal morbidity, institutions and systems should either adopt an existing screening criteria or create their own list of outcomes that merit review.

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