IMI Blog


Significant Disparities Found Among Women with Severe Maternal Morbidity

Jennifer E. Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN

September 13, 2018


The Institute for Medicaid Innovation recently collaborated with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on a landmark analysis utilizing the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) data to look at severe maternal morbidity in the U.S.  The recently released report highlights trends and disparities in delivery hospitalizations involving severe maternal morbidity from 2006 through the third quarter of 2015.   

The analysis utilized the standardized measure containing 21 indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to define severe maternal morbidity.  These 21 indicators of severe maternal morbidity include conditions (e.g., renal failure, sepsis), as well as procedures performed during the hospital stay (e.g., blood transfusion, hysterectomy), that may or may not have resulted in in-hospital death.  

A few key findings include:

  • The rate of severe maternal morbidity at delivery, as defined by 21 conditions and procedures, increased 45% from 2006 through 2015, from 101.3 to 146.6 per 10,000 deliveries.
  • Severe maternal morbidity was 112-115% higher for blacks than for whites in 2006 (164 vs. 76) and 2015 (241 vs. 114), with no change in the black-white disparity.
  • Although deaths decreased for all races/ethnicities, in-hospital mortality was three times higher for black women than whites in 2015 (11 vs. 4 per 100,000 deliveries). 

To read the full report, click here