New proposal by collaborative aims to lower pregnancy-related deaths in Texas

FILE - A pregnant woman and her doctor (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - A pregnant woman and her doctor (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new proposal by the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies aims to accomplish two things at once: lower the number of pregnancy-related deaths and diseases in the state and improve care in hospitals.

They’ve outlined 15 data elements that the state’s Perinatal Advisory Council could potentially implement for tracking that both the state and the collaborative can work together on. Dr. Ramsey said the proposal encourages data sharing between the state of Texas, Department of State Health Services and the collaborative.

“Our mortality rate has climbed in the state of Texas for a variety of reasons,” Dr. Patrick Ramsey, co-chair of the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies’ data subcommittee, said. “We know one of the leading causes for maternal morbidity within seven days is hemorrhage following birth. Other causes are hypertensive complications. If we can identify those problems at certain facilities across the state and implement bundles and other ways of approaching that for better care, we can potentially have a better impact.”

Dr. Ramsey said Texas members studied state collaboratives in California, Ohio, Illinois and Florida, as well as data elements that are currently being collected through a variety of different entities. The Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies chose the 15 elements based on importance, immediate relevance and feasibility.

Dr. Patrick Ramsey gives a presentation during the Perinatal Advisory Council meeting. (KXAN Photo/Steffi Lee)

At Any Baby Can in Austin, Sandra Guidry says what their nurses have been seeing are more instances of pregnant mothers who have developed symptoms of preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication dealing with high blood pressure.

Guidry, the nurse supervisor for nurse family partnerships, says the nurses work with the mothers from the beginning of pregnancy through when the child is around 2 years old.

“We have that unique opportunity because the nurse is in the hope every week or every two weeks that they can capture these subtle symptoms that are the red flags that tells us preeclampsia is a potential risk,” Guidry said. “When they’re witnessing these symptoms, they are referring them directly back to the doctor, to the hospital to be assessed, evaluated and treated accordingly.”

Dr. Ramsey hopes that collecting this data and sharing it under one database can provide hospitals with insight on what areas of care need to be addressed.

“And have hospitals use that information to track progress,” Ramsey said. “Are we making improvements? Are we not making improvements? And if there are areas for improvements, what things can we put in place to help improve care in those areas?”

He says by September of 2020, all state hospitals will have to be regionalized for maternal levels of care and he hopes this database can be organized by that time. Right now, the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies is working on forming a hospital network to catch early warning signs, hemorrhage and hypertension issues.

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