The tone of the article in the 17 May edition of the Medical Independent (MI) regarding the death of a patient of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital (CWIUH) could cause much unnecessary stress and anxiety for pregnant women.
The death of any woman which occurs during her pregnancy or in a period after birth is recorded as a maternal death. Over a period of 11 years between 2000 and 2011 there were five maternal deaths in the CWIUH out of total of 103,995 mothers delivered (0.005 per cent). None of these deaths were directly related to pregnancy.
One death was as a result of a road traffic accident and the other four deaths were indirect due to underlying serious medical conditions and not as a result of obstetric causes. All maternal deaths are notified to the coroner for investigation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines maternal deaths in two ways. Direct obstetric deaths are those resulting from obstetric complications of the pregnant state (pregnancy, labour and the puerperium) from interventions, omissions, incorrect treatment or from a chain of events resulting from the above. Indirect obstetric deaths are those resulting from previous existing disease, or disease that developed during pregnancy and which are not due to direct obstetric causes.
Dr Chris Fitzpatrick,
Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital (CWIUH)