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Early lessons from maternal mortality review committees on drug-related deaths—time for obstetrical providers to take the lead in addressing addiction

November 11, 2020 4:51 PM | Anonymous

Early lessons from maternal mortality review committees on drug-related deaths - time for obstetrical providers to take the lead in addressing addiction
Marcela C. Smid, MD, MA, MS; Charles W. Schauberger, MD; Mishka Terplan, MD; Tricia E. Wright, MD

The problem: In the United States, maternal mortality review committees are providing compelling data that drug-related deaths are emerging as a leading cause of pregnancy-associated death (death during pregnancy or up to a year postpartum). Recommendations from the maternal mortality review committees consistently highlight screening all pregnant and postpartum women for drug use and improving access to evidence-based substance use disorder and mental health treatment. Unfortunately, many providers lack the confidence, skills, and necessary resources to screen for substance use, provide basic behavioral health services, or facilitate referral to high-quality services in their clinical settings. Our profession’s collective lack of response to a leading cause of maternal death represents a missed opportunity for potentially life-saving interventions.

A solution: We call on our fellow obstetrician-gynecologists to incorporate the lessons learned from maternal mortality review committees and integrate addiction assessment and treatment into prenatal and postpartum care. However, provider-level integration of behavioral health services is insufficient to fully address the magnitude of drug-related maternal deaths in the United States. Therefore, we ask our colleagues to address the structural and systemic barriers to care identified by the maternal mortality review committees. By doing so, we can prevent drug-related maternal deaths.

Read the full article here. 

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