One in five mothers said they were mistreated during their maternity care, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The most frequent reported mistreatment involved:
- Receiving no response to requests for help.
- Being shouted at or scolded.
- Not having their physical privacy protected.
- Being threatened with withholding treatment or made to accept unwanted treatment.
Almost half of the women also reported that they held back asking questions or telling healthcare providers about concerns, sometimes because they said the provider seemed rushed or would think they were being difficult.
The percentage of women saying they had been mistreated was even higher among Black (30%) and Hispanic (29%) patients.
Noting the rise in the maternal death rate since 2018, the CDC added that “Higher patient-centered maternity care scores are associated with lower risk for pregnancy complications. Improving respectful maternity care can improve the experiences of mothers during pregnancy and delivery care.”
Negative experiences might impact healthcare such as, for example, how “experiences of racial discrimination is associated with less than adequate prenatal care and not receiving a postpartum visit,” the report says.
“Engaging patients with effective communication is a component of respectful care. Nearly one half of respondents reported holding back from asking questions or discussing concerns with their provider during maternity care,” the authors wrote. “The most common mistreatment experience reported by mothers was a health care provider ignoring them, refusing their request for help, or not responding to their request for help.”
The CDC recommends healthcare systems implement training for recognizing unconscious bias; shared-decision making; improving interactions and communications with patients, and cultural awareness.
“Improving respectful care is an important component of strategies to reduce pregnancy-related deaths,” it notes. “Health professionals interacting with patients at all points of maternity care play a role in improving patient experiences during maternity care and providing respectful maternity care equitably.”