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Why communication is key to reducing Black maternal mortality

Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell tells Scripps News that improving mortality rates during childbirth starts with taking all patient concerns seriously.
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 31, 2023

Chance Seales spoke with Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, who shared her story of almost dying during childbirth and how she is now working to address Black maternal mortality. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rates among developed countries, attributed to a lack of affordable health care and health insurance.

Beyond even equitable access to healthcare, Curry-Winchell says, a core issue that must be resolved is communication and trust.

"When the patient is stating 'something is wrong,' we have to, as a hospital system, professionals, look into that, and take every single concern seriously," Curry-Winchell said. "We have our own perceptions of what that person is feeling. Unfortunately that removes or dilutes our ability to take in what someone's sharing."

"We have to continue to look at 'how can we educate our healthcare professionals?' 'How can we continue to empower our patients to speak up when something is wrong?'"

Hospitals launch new initiative to curb high maternal mortality rates
Pregnant woman receiving an ultrasound scan.

Hospitals launch new initiative to curb high maternal mortality rates

The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has increased every year since 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


"The first part is acknowledging that there is an issue, and then investing in listening to our patients, and then responding to our patients," Curry-Winchell said. "You can have the best access in the world, but if you don't hear what that patient is stating, and even more, if you don't react to what they're telling you, we can't produce change with this ongoing issue."