This recent New York Times article has revealed the continuing racial disparities in maternal mortality rates, particularly in the city’s public hospitals. The tragic deaths of new mothers demonstrate a deep-rooted issue: healthcare outcomes for Black women are worse compared to their white counterparts.
Why are maternal mortality rates so bad?
New York City’s maternal mortality data paints a distressing picture, with Black women being nine times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than white women. These disparities involve factors such as chronic conditions, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages and systemic racism within the healthcare system—and it’s not just happening in New York.
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent six-point plan and Mayor Eric Adams’ signing of seven bills aimed at addressing maternal mortality reflect a recognition of the urgent need for intervention. These initiatives include paid prenatal leave, eliminating co-pays for prenatal visits and a monitoring system for unnecessary cesarean sections. While these steps are crucial, there are questions about their effectiveness in the face of systemic issues.
One factor highlighted in the article is the role of hospital quality in contributing to racial disparities. A 2016 study suggests that hospital performance could account for nearly half of the racial disparity in severe maternal morbidity rates. Black women often deliver in public hospitals or struggling private “safety net” hospitals, where understaffing is prevalent, and safety records tend to be lower.
Maternal mortality and personal injury law
In cases of maternal mortality where hospital quality may have played a role, personal injury law is a potential avenue for justice. A patient or surviving family member typically needs to establish several key elements in a medical malpractice claim:
- Duty of care: The patient must establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship, creating a legal duty for the professional to provide an accepted standard of care.
- Breach of care: The patient must demonstrate that the healthcare provider breached the duty owed to the patient.
- Causation: The patient must establish a direct link between the healthcare provider’s breach of the standard of care and the injuries or harm suffered. It is not enough to show that malpractice occurred—the malpractice must be the proximate cause of the harm.
- Injury: The patient must prove that they suffered harm, injury or damages as a result of the healthcare provider’s actions or negligence.
- Expert testimony: Medical malpractice cases often require expert testimony. These experts help establish the standard of care, testify about the breach and explain the causal connection between the breach and the patient’s injuries.
Navigating the complexities of personal injury law in maternal mortality cases is challenging—but the Law Offices of Tim Misny can help. Call today so we can review your claim.
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The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your medical malpractice claim. If you or a loved one were injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (800) 556-4769 so that I can evaluate your case right away.