CBS Local — A new survey has revealed that many nurses who care for new mothers do not have the medical knowledge to detect serious postpartum health conditions. The nationwide study says many life-threatening complications go without warning when new moms leave the hospital.

The study, published in the American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, showed that a stunning 88 percent of nurses polled could not name the three leading causes of maternal death. The 372 registered nurses (RN’s) who took part in the survey all care for women during postpartum.

Two-thirds of the RN’s reported spending less than 10 minutes going over potential warning signs with new mothers on the day they were discharged.

“If nurses aren’t aware that there’s been a rise in maternal mortality, then it makes it less urgent to explain to women what the warning signs are,” said the study’s co-author Debra Bingham. The teacher at the University of Maryland School of Nursing added, “we had some nurses come out and say, ‘Well you know what, I don’t want to scare the woman. This is supposed to be a happy time.’”

According to the CDC, 65,000 women in the United States experience severe pregnancy complications like heart attacks or hemorrhaging each year. The rate of severe maternal morbidity (SMM) has reportedly doubled in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010.


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