HJAR Mar/Apr 2020

HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS I  MAR / APR 2020 37 Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH Director and State Health Officer Arkansas Department of Health picture of maternal deaths within the state. While the ADH has seen a rise in maternal deaths reported, some are due to increased data collection. Arkansas death certificates now include a question asking if the person was pregnant at the time of death, or at some point within the last year. Arkansas was one of the few states without a review committee when the federal government passed the Preventing Maternal Death Act of 2018. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has assisted as Arkansas establishes its review committee. The state’s newMaternal Mortality Review Committee was created with the passage of Act 829 of 2019. The Arkansas Legislature also approvedAct 1032 of 2019, which created another committee, the Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee. The Maternal Mortality Review Committee will have roughly 20 members representing a host of different specialties: obstetrics, maternal fetal medicine, anesthesia, cardiology, family medicine, pathology, psychiatry, public health, nursing, midwifery, and community- based organizations. As the committee begins to identify maternal deaths, members will consider six questions: 1. Was the death pregnancy related? 2. What was the cause of death? 3. Was the death preventable? 4. What were the critical contributing factors to the death? 5. What are the recommendations and actions that address those contributing factors? 6. What is the anticipated impact of those actions if implemented? This committee will perform a critical role in ensuring all maternal deaths are reviewed, no matter how simple the cause may seem. Starting this year, the review committee will be required to file a written report on the number and causes of maternal deaths and its recommendations by December 31 each year for state legislators to review. The review committee is not the sole solution to this issue. The ADH also works to improve maternal health by providing prenatal care through local health units across the state. In addition, theADH strives to educate patients and their family and friends so they are empowered to know what to look for and be mindful of, not only during their hospital stay, but in the weeks and months to follow. If a woman does not knowwhat warnings signs to look for, then she cannot properly act. For more information, please contact theADH Family Health Branch at 501-661-2021. n “As women defer childbirth until they are older, they are more likely to have underlying conditions that may be exacerbated by pregnancy.”