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AWHONN Initiative Aims to Reduce Alarming Number of Maternal Deaths in U.S.

With U.S. women experiencing a greater risk of death from pregnancy-related complications than women in 46 other countries, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has launched a multi-year, three-pronged initiative to improve the treatment of pregnancy related complications. 

The first initiative focuses on improving the treatment of obstetric hemorrhage - one of the leading causes of death during labor and delivery.

AWHONN's Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) Project has brought together 54 birthing hospitals in Georgia and New Jersey to assess and improve clinical practices. Additional hospitals in the District of Columbia are expected to join the PPH Project later this year.

Approximately 125,000 women and their families (each year) are expected to benefit from the PPH Project. A full list of the participating hospitals is available at

While two to three women die every day in the U.S. from pregnancy-related complications, more than half of these deaths are preventable.  Incidents of obstetric hemorrhage (or bleeding too much during childbirth) have increased in recent years along with an overuse of inductions of labor.  

Research suggests that women who have inductions of labor have a greater risk of experiencing postpartum hemorrhage.  Between 1999 and 2009, the number of women who received blood transfusions during and immediately after childbirth increased by 183%, according to AWHONN. African-American women are disproportionately affected by birthing complications with three to four times more deaths than women of all other racial and ethnic groups.

Participating hospitals joined the initiative because of their interest in shaping and improving postpartum hemorrhage clinical practices. During the next 18 months they will work with national experts to identify best practices for treatment.

"By participating in the Postpartum Hemorrhage Project these hospitals are leading the way in providing women quality care during labor and delivery," said AWHONN's CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. "Maternal deaths can largely be prevented and AWHONN is working to help keep mothers and babies safe."

Supported by a grant from Merck for Mothers, AWHONN's Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) Project is designed to:

  • increase clinician recognition of women at greatest risk of obstetric hemorrhage;
  • increase early recognition of women who are bleeding too much;
  • increase the readiness of clinical team preparedness to successfully respond to obstetric hemorrhage; and
  • improve clinician response to obstetric hemorrhage.

Additional practice improvements will include identifying barriers to treating obstetric hemorrhage, sharing clinical best practices, and identifying how to more effectively implement similar improvements in all hospitals in the U.S.

For more information about AWHONN visit  

National News Archives
  Last Post: July 4, 2014 | View Comments(1)

First time attended AWHONN conference. Alarming numbers of pph very concern with african american numbers. My question is why african american higher? Would like to help teach. It has made me more inform.

sheila robinson,  rn,  albert ensteinJuly 04, 2014
bronx, NY


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