How comprehensive data documentation holds the power to transform maternal mortality rates

Jan. 19, 2024 / By Melissa Clarke, MD

The United States is a global medical care leader in many aspects, including the development of new pharmaceuticals, acute stroke care and cancer screening. Yet, despite our advances and wealth, we lead peer nations in maternal mortality and morbidity. 

While the vast majority of the nearly four million women who give birth in America every year do so without complications, maternal deaths have more than doubled over the past two decades. 

In fact, for every maternal death, 70 more birthing individuals experience serious, sometimes life-threatening complications. 

Even more shockingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than eight out of 10 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. 

Let’s be very clear: Maternal mortality and morbidity are multifactorial and cannot be solved overnight. Large systematic issues are at play—in addition to deep racial and socioeconomic inequities. We must remain committed to tackling this issue from multiple angles. 

I’m here to say I have hope. There is an incredibly powerful, readily available tool that I’m certain will make big leaps in helping us course-correct mortality rates: accurate and complete data documentation. So why is data documentation so critical to the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis? 

Read the full article on 

Melissa E. Clarke, MD, CMQ,is the chief population health officer, health care transformation and health equity at 3M Health Information Systems.