HealthCDC Reports Mistreatment of Patients by Maternity Care Providers

CDC Reports Mistreatment of Patients by Maternity Care Providers


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People from some racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to have negative experiences during pregnancy and delivery affecting the quality of care and their health outcomes.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found about 30% of Black, Hispanic, and multiracial women reported mistreatment, compared with 20% overall, in maternity care.

Shanna Cox, associate director for science in the division of reproductive health for the CDC, said many of those surveyed reported similar experiences when visiting a hospital or a clinic.

mistreatment maternity

“Receiving no response to requests for help, being shouted or scolded at, which can be termed as verbal abuse, not having their physical privacy protected, and being threatened with withholding treatment or made to accept unwanted treatment,” Cox outlined.

Cox pointed out mistreatment and discrimination have a direct impact on how pregnant people experience care. Florida’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which analyzes maternal deaths in Florida, reported the state’s pregnancy-related mortality rate has increased every year since 2016.

Cox noted almost half of those surveyed said they shied away from asking questions or sharing concerns during their pregnancy or delivery. Many women said they were embarrassed to ask a question, felt their health care provider would think they were being “difficult,” or they did not feel confident they knew what they were talking about.

Cox emphasized better communication is necessary.

“Some of this information was precipitated by some of the work that we do with the ‘Hear Her’ campaign,” Cox explained. “Which is a campaign that we hope to promote awareness of the urgent maternal warning signs, and promote provider and patient communication.”

Cox added health care systems need to provide respectful care, consider the patient’s values, needs, and desires, and ensure they are engaged in their own health care, and feel heard and respected.

“This is a component of quality care that’s been highlighted as a strategy to reduce the disparities in pregnancy-related death, as well as identify opportunities for support,” Cox stressed.

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