Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has made maternal and child health a priority by expanding Medicaid, increasing access to nurse home visiting and assistance for single parents, and establishing both the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PA PQC) and the PA Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PA MMRC). The PA MMRC was created by HB 1869 and signed into law on May 9 of 2018. The PA MMRC gathers as much information as possible about the lives and deaths of these women to determine if their deaths could have been prevented, and if so make recommendations to prevent future maternal deaths. Since the passage of HB 1869, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) has recruited and appointed 32 members to the PA MMRC. These members are diverse in their fields of expertise and represent geographically diverse parts of the commonwealth.
In 2010, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) developed the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (Philadelphia MMRC) to address a sharp increase in pregnancy-related deaths in the city. To date, Philadelphia’s notably high rate is 22 deaths per 100,000 live births (based on 2010-2018 aggregate data). The Philadelphia MMRC is a highly dedicated, multidisciplinary group of more than thirty members from local service organizations, delivery hospitals, and governmental agencies. The MMRT released its first citywide surveillance report in 2015, which documented Philadelphia’s significant maternal health challenges and included evidence-based recommendations for solutions to improve trends in maternal deaths and methods to track progress. The Philadelphia MMRC Medical Director, Dr. Roy Hoffman, as well as several members from the Philadelphia MMRC are also members of the PA MMRC.
The mission of the PA MMRC is to systematically review all maternal deaths in PA, identify contributing factors and develop strategies to prevent morbidity, mortality and racial disparities. We will achieve this mission by continuing to identify pregnancy associated deaths; gather clinical and non-clinical data on these deaths; use MMRIA decision form to guide our multidisciplinary reviews; gain access to MMRIA data system to enter data in a timely fashion; and implement quality assurance processes to ensure quality data. Once maternal deaths are analyzed, Pennsylvania will share findings with diverse stakeholders to inform prevention strategies.
The MMRC and PA DOH will educate the public, health care providers, and policy makers about the PA MMRC and their findings. Additionally, the MMRC will be working closely with the PA PQC as the action-arm of the MMRC work. Pennsylvania’s application for this grant demonstrates the PA DOH, PA MMRC and Philadelphia MMRC’s ability, framework, and infrastructure to successfully carry out the mission and purpose of this grant. This work will ultimately make pregnancy safer, improve women’s health outcomes, and improve health equity in Pennsylvania.