85 percent of Tennessee maternity deaths were preventable, report finds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Officials with the Tennessee Department of Health say 85 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in 2017 could have been prevented, and substance abuse was the leading contribution to those deaths.

The agency issued the report on Tuesday. It’s in keeping with the Maternal Mortality Review and Prevention Act the Tennessee General Assembly passed in 2016. The law created a review panel to look over maternal deaths and offer prevention recommendations. The department says a death is considered pregnancy-related if it happened during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy because of a pregnancy complication, a chain of events beginning with pregnancy or a condition that was aggravated by the effects of pregnancy.

In the 59-page report, the panel verified that 78 deaths in 2017 were pregnancy-associated, despite 98 deaths flagged as such. Tennessee’s pregnancy-associated mortality ratio would have been 26 percent higher if not for the review panel.

The majority of deaths reviewed happened 43 days to a year after pregnancy, while the remaining deaths happened during pregnancy or soon after pregnancy.

You can read the full report for yourself in the document below this story.