Not long after giving birth, a 30-year-old woman from Minnesota named Nicole Bermingham was sent home. Feeling feverish and nauseated, she returned to the hospital. But she was allegedly told to go back home, ignoring test results showing that she had sepsis, a potentially fatal condition.
Twelve hours later, Bermingham again went back to the hospital, where she died, according to a U.S. News & World Report. In August 2017, a jury awarded more than $20 million to her family.
The circumstances leading to Bermingham’s tragic death may reflect a nationwide problem in hospitals.
According to a HuffPost article, the failure by medical providers to offer adequate postpartum treatment appears to be having tragic results. Pregnancy-related deaths have been on the rise since 1987, when 7.2 deaths were recorded per 100,000 live births. In 2013, the number had jumped to 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. More women die of pregnancy-related deaths – most occurring after birth – in the United States than in any other developed nation.
As the HuffPost article suggests, there seems to be a demonstrated lack of post-partum health education among nurses along with blatant disregard for safety. A survey of 372 nurses found that most of these medical professionals were unaware of the current rate of pregnancy-related deaths. Most did not know that the majority of pregnancy-related deaths occur after birth.
Better communication between medical professionals and new mothers is needed
New mothers typically get little to no education about potential problems they might face after giving birth. According to HuffPost, a study found that nurses spend less than 10 minutes discussing warning signs with new moms.
Even healthy women who experience trouble-free births could face life-threatening conditions after going home. Medical professionals, however, cannot predict who might be particularly at risk. That’s why it’s important for health care provers to offer clear instructions before they leave the hospital with their newborns.
Nurses should discuss the following warning signs with new moms before sending them home:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Fainting or a fast heartbeat
HuffPost cites structural problems that lead to a lack of adequate communication between new mothers and nurses: New mothers are facing shorter hospital stays; hospital administrators are not hiring enough postpartum nurses.
When hospitals cut corners to save money, the consequences can be tragic. Administrators must ensure there are enough postpartum nurses – and those nurses must have the training and knowledge to make sure new mothers are informed about postpartum health risks.
The attorneys at Coplan & Crane have dedicated themselves to fighting for families who have lost loved ones because of the negligence of hospitals and health care providers. If you or a loved one was injured or a loved one died because of malpractice, contact us for a free consultation.