Lawmaker testifies on maternal mortality data registry bill

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, testified Wednesday on her bill which could change the way Texas tracks data on maternal deaths and near misses. 

The maternal mortality and morbidity data registry bill would create the first statewide, online maternal data registry. The web portal would collect and store data from hospitals and other health care providers across the state.

HB 2703 would require data to be collected on a daily basis and would also include the most high-risk conditions, such as hemorrhaging and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

“This bill is a real game changer,” said Thierry “We really have a chance to prevent future mortalities.” 

Thierry filed her bill as KXAN’s “Mothers Erased” investigation highlighted issues with current data collection regarding maternal deaths and tracking.

The numbers are not clear because of errors with data collection. The state developed a new method that focuses on tracking numbers, but women who die more than 42 days after giving birth are not part of Texas’ official maternal mortality rate. Thierry says her bill will improve overall tracking and include women who survive severe complications.

“The fact that I almost lost my life in childbirth it wouldn’t be in vain,” said Theirry “And all of the wonderful young ladies that lost their lives and their families – I think they’ll feel that they are turning their pain into purpose.”

Thierry says last week the House put up $100 million toward combating maternal mortality for the next two years. She says about $7 million would be needed to create the registry.

“For every single maternal death you see there are hundreds if not thousands of other kinds of complications that don’t get recorded and these women are just as important as the ones we are focusing on,” said Tegra Swogger with Circle Up United Methodist Women.

The advocacy organization says this bill is long over due, but not everyone is onboard.

“We are concerned that the approach to better understanding maternal mortality or morbidity that is taken in this legislation may not be exactly tailored in the right direction,” explained Steve Wohleb with the Texas Hospital Association “We worry that the legislation that is proposed includes many matrix that have not been tested or proven as improving maternal health outcomes.”

The Public Health Committee could vote on the bill as early as next week.

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