Within a 30-day period, two mothers who had given birth in the same hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts died shortly after delivery. The two deaths within a one month period are unusual because maternal deaths are rare — there were only three maternal deaths in Massachusetts in 2012, three in 2011, and two in 2010. Nationwide, there are about 650 maternal deaths each year during pregnancy and delivery. While the two deaths appear unrelated at this time, their occurrences within a thirty-day period have raised concerns and are under investigation.
The first death occurred on December 14, 2013, when a 30-year-old new mother died after she gave birth to her first child. Fortunately the newborn was born healthy but unfortunately his mother died due to complications from the Cesarean section delivery.
The second woman died on January 15, 2014. The 32-year-old new mother who had given birth to a healthy baby girl died apparently as a result of an amniotic fluid embolism, which cause of death is awaiting confirmation following an autopsy, leaving behind her husband and three other children. The mother’s three other children were delivered by vaginal deliveries but her last delivery was a planned Cesarean section delivery because her health care providers determined that her current pregnancy was a high-risk pregnancy.
Officials with the hospital where the deaths occurred and state officials in Massachusetts are investigating the unusual deaths. The hospital where the deaths occurred delivers about 3,500 babies each year.
The hospital has issued a statement that the two maternal deaths “appear to be unpredictable and unpreventable” and that “We’ve initiated a thorough review of what happened and we’re also in contact with the Department of Public Health, which would be standard procedure for events like these. Right now it’s early, but there’s no indication in our early review that anything could have been done to avoid these outcomes … Our teams responded to both cases swiftly and aggressively — they did everything possible … All signs suggest that the two situations were unrelated, unanticipated and unpreventable.”
The hospital where the recent maternal deaths occurred was ranked among the top ten Best Regional Hospitals in the Boston area in 2011 by U.S. News & World Report; the hospital was the only community hospital ranked in the top ten. The hospital is a 318-bed non-profit charitable hospital serving Southeastern Massachusetts that provides Level III Maternal/Newborn care.
In 2013, the hospital was ranked by U.S. News & World as number 5 overall in the Boston metro area, behind Massachusetts General Hospital (ranked number two in the United States), Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. The hospital was ranked as number 6 out of 115 hospitals in Massachusetts.
If you, your baby, or a loved one suffered birth injuries or maternal death in Massachusetts or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim, if appropriate.
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