Eliminating racial and ethnic healthcare outcome disparities

Eliminating racial and ethnic healthcare outcome disparities

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately two-thirds of these maternal deaths are preventable.

The reasons for increased rates of maternal deaths in Black women include variation in quality healthcare, implicit bias and underlying chronic conditions.  Hypertension, for example, is known to increase pregnancy-related maternal death, and it is more prevalent and less well controlled in Black women.  Additionally, Black women are overrepresented in the number of deaths reported among women with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection regardless of pregnancy status, and Black women are at increased risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness compared to white women.

At Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology, we actively educate our faculty and resident physicians about recognizing implicit bias and how social determinants of health have historically prevented many women from having fair opportunities for healthy pregnancy outcomes.  Our obstetricians lead the local healthcare community in designing and implementing strategies for early recognition, prevention and treatment of common life-threatening maternal conditions including hemorrhage and hypertensive emergencies.  As the only practice with fellowship-trained maternal and fetal medicine specialists in the region, we are uniquely qualified to manage pregnant women with chronic underlying diseases.  Standardization of care in our obstetric practice along with robust quality improvement initiatives are targeted at reducing maternal deaths among all races and ethnicities.

Eliminating racial and ethnic healthcare outcome disparities, including maternal mortality, will require a multi-faceted approach.  We must guarantee access to high quality care in the pre-conception, pregnancy and postpartum periods as well as retrain our healthcare system to ensure maternal safety for all races and ethnicities.

To schedule a consultation, call Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology at 304-691-1400.



David Jude, MD

Dr. Jude is a board-certified OB/GYN and professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.