Indiana looks to open records to prevent maternal death

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INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – In order to stop preventable maternal deaths in the Indiana, researchers say there needs to be more access to certain records.

State lawmakers are one step closer to help.

The goal of the Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Committee is to find ways to prevent maternal mortality in the state when they can.

“87% they deemed as preventable,” said Republican author State Sen. Jean Leising.

She said some might think Indiana ranks third worst in the nation for maternal mortality due to lack of access to care or bad protocols.

“But that isn’t what this report found,” said Leising. “It found that there were only 10 deaths that were directly related to pregnancy out of 63.”

The majority of other reported deaths were due to mental health issues or substance abuse. That’s one reason SB 10 opens up access to mental health records and requires healthcare providers to report all maternal deaths within one year of the baby and determine whether pregnancy was the cause.

It requires the committee to review those deaths, including those following abortions and miscarriages.

“The goal is then for policy recommendations to be made to really target the root causes, and direct policies to try to help bend the curve of those preventable deaths that are occurring here in Indiana today,” said Amy Levander with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus member State Rep. Vanessa Summers said lawmakers can’t lose sight of the importance of continued care, especially for minority women. Black mothers are dying at twice the rate as white.

“Let’s help women for a whole year after they’ve had a child,” said Summers.

She’s pushing senators to add a $2.4 million expense to the budget so women on Medicaid can have free postpartum services for one year. Her request has yet to be heard, but the bill seeking access to records passed committee unanimously.

Click here to read the latest report from the Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

(This story was originally published on March 10, 2021)

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