The Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative, made up of 31 birthing facilities from around the state, met in Lafayette earlier this month for the second learning session of the Reducing Maternal Morbidity initiative. This work is aimed at reducing severe medical complications from bleeding or severely elevated blood pressure during and after the birth process. These complications, known as maternal morbidity, are unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in short- or long-term consequences to a woman's health.

A recent report shows that deaths related to pregnancy are rising faster in Louisiana than elsewhere in the country. The most common causes of those pregnancy-related deaths are hemorrhage and heart disease. Black women are four times more likely to die, with medical experts pointing to reasons for this disparity such as differences in the conditions of life, racism, differences in quality of medical care, and complexity of illness due to these factors.

According to Dr. Pooja Mehta, medical director for the Quality Collaborative, these statistics are the driving force behind the group’s urgent focus to prevent maternal harm.

“Our group is focusing on quick, consistent responses to bleeding and high blood pressure, and understanding and narrowing racial disparities,” Mehta said. “To be more effective, the many birth facilities in Louisiana have joined together to support each other.”

Mehta and other experts say that most childbirths are normal and safe. “So being prepared for a rare emergency requires partnering with women and families to know when to act, examining potential biases, conducting drills, huddles, checklists, screening everyone for risk and improving communication at important points in care,” she said.

The goal of the collaborative is to transform systems so that evidence-based best practices are followed for every family, every time, at every birth facility. Teams are supported by a group of expert faculty from health systems and community-based organizations around the state.

By participating in the Perinatal Quality Collaborative, hospitals are also participating in a similar national effort, the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health. This quality improvement initiative has shown that best practices can lead to real change for a state’s maternal health outcomes.

For more information on the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative, visit