The health of an expectant mother before, during, and after childbirth is very critical. The doctors who practice at hospitals where babies are born have an important duty to care when it comes to the lives of a newborn and mother.
Unfortunately, in one major U.S. city, the quality of care an expectant mother receives at the hospital where she gives birth is dependent upon race. This grim reality was brought to light Monday (January 9th) in an online report published on the website of WNYC News, a nonprofit news agency based in New York City.
A Look at the Facts
The recent WNYC report was written by Fred Mogul, a heath care and medicine reporter for the agency. Mogul’s article was based on a number of data sources and a research study. One data source was public information extracted from the website of the New York State Health Department.
Mogul’s report was also based on a research study conducted by four doctorate level analysts who had their report published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The data and study findings all pointed to the same conclusion: Black women face a higher risk of serious child delivery difficulties at New York City’s medical centers.
“New York City hospitals that mainly serve African-American expectant mothers have severe complication rates two-and-a-half times higher than those that mainly serve white mothers, even after you factor in patient complexities,” Mogul wrote.
When it comes to the risk of death expectant black mothers face at New York City’s medical facilities, the numbers are even more startling. Mogul also wrote the following about this disturbing issue:
“In New York City, African-American women are 12 times more likely to die before, during and after childbirth than white women — a gap almost four times wider than the country as a whole. Overall, the numbers are relatively small — about 700 each year nationally and 30 locally — but per capita they’re higher than any other developed nation.”
Reasons For the Racial Disparities
Prior to finalizing his WNYC report, Mogul also conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with medical professionals. He was able to hear explanations about why such a high health risk faces so many black women who give birth every year at New York City’s hospitals.
One of Mogul’s interviewees was Dr. Ralph Ruggiero, chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. In his WNYC interview, Dr. Ruggiero suggested that in some instances, doctors do not take facts from current medical studies into account when they care for patients.
Instead, they base practice procedures on their own professional actualities as medical doctors. “[The doctors that were here at Wyckoff Heights Hospital when I arrived] all practiced differently, and they practiced based on their experience, not on the latest research,” Dr. Ruggiero said.
Current research findings should be relevant to how medical professionals practice. This is because medical studies can reveal broad and pervasive improprieties, which are present within the frameworks of existing health care facilities. Systemic racism in the health care industry is a fathomable reality. No major problem can be solved if there is a widespread denial that it exists. The major problem in this case is the race-based health care obstacles, which faces black expectant mothers who give birth in New York City’s hospitals. Hopefully, ongoing research can be carried out that will accurately reveal these adversities.