Proposed bill would strengthen Texas data on maternal deaths, near misses

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, says she wants to make sure stories of mothers who die or nearly die during or after childbirth are not forgotten.

On Thursday, she filed a maternal mortality and morbidity data registry bill, which would require “collecting data at the time a pregnant woman is admitted for delivery, on the day of delivery, 42 days postpartum and 364 days postpartum.”

The bill says data would be collected on a daily basis and would also include the most high-risk conditions, such as hemorrhaging and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

“Earlier this morning, I filed HB 2703, which is an innovative piece of legislation that would create the first statewide, online maternal data registry in Texas. This sophisticated web portal would collect and store data from hospitals and other health care providers on all maternal deaths well as all ‘near deaths’ across the state,” Thierry told KXAN on Thursday. “I drafted this legislation in direct response to expert recommendations over the last two years, as well as more recent outcries from moms and stakeholders across the state, all agreeing that we are still lacking high quality, reliable data on the circumstances of maternal deaths.”

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

While across the state mothers are dying or nearly dying after childbirth, it’s not clear how many due to 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’s bill aims to improve overall tracking and includes women who survive severe pregnancy complications.

Arezow Doost shares information packets at lawmaker’s offices. (KXAN)

Reporters Sarah Rafique and Arezow Doost shared KXAN’s investigation with dozens of representatives, senators and their staff at the State Capitol on Wednesday. White folders included personal stories from women and also detailed critical changes that they say could have prevented their near-death experiences.

One of those mothers, Chelsea West, of Burnet, said her complications were so severe that a chaplain was called to pray with her family after she gave birth to her baby girl in March 2018.

“I wish that nurses had told me that you do have some risk factors for a hemorrhage and explain to me what it is and what to look for after my delivery,” West said.

Rep. Thierry says that’s why the data registry bill is critical. Thierry knows firsthand the fear of almost dying while giving birth. She had a near-death experience in 2012 when giving birth to her daughter.

“I believe it’s now time for the state to be on the forefront of improving maternal health outcomes with a statewide web portal that generates data and performance metrics on maternity care services,” explained Thierry, “If HB 2703 is passed, hospitals and clinicians will have a low burden tool that provides the performance metrics and benchmarking data needed [to] drive quality improvement of maternal health outcomes in Texas.”

This session Thierry also filed a bill to require cultural competency training for medical professionals to remove bias in treatment of African-American women. Another bill includes continued Medicaid coverage for eligible women up to one year after they deliver or experience an involuntary miscarriage.

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