Reducing Maternal Mortality with Obstetric Care Designations

Maternal deaths related to childbirth in the United States have been rising in the past decade. According to a 2014 report published in The Lancet, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is now more than double the rate in Saudi Arabia and Canada, and more than triple the rate in the United Kingdom.

To address this trend, ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recently issued Levels of Maternal Care, the first consensus document establishing levels of care for perinatal and postnatal women. It is the second document in the joint ACOG and SMFM Obstetric Care Consensus series.

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Preventing Birth Defects Begins Before Conception

Birth_Defects_Prevention_Month_buttons_03_300x250This January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, let’s dedicate ourselves to educating our patients about the importance of preconception planning – and lifelong health.

According to the CDC, birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies in the US every year, and 18 babies die each day as a result of a birth defect. Some are caused by genetic factors such as Down syndrome or sickle cell anemia. Others are caused by certain chemicals or drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Unfortunately, however, the cause of many birth defects is not yet known.

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The Future of the Ob-Gyn Workforce

Workforce issues in women’s healthcare continue to be a primary concern for ACOG.

A recent survey of 20,088 physicians conducted by the Physicians Foundation, a non-profit research organization, found that increasing workloads, regulatory requirements, and other changes in the healthcare system are prompting physicians to make career changes. It found that 81% of physicians described themselves as either overextended or at full capacity. Although these findings are not specific to our specialty of obstetrics and gynecology, it can be assumed that many ACOG Fellows have similar opinions.

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How to Counsel Patients about Immunizations

In recent years, we’ve made great strides in encouraging vaccination in pregnant women. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, influenza vaccination rates in pregnant women increased from 15% to around 47%. Since then, rates have been sustained around 50%, increasing to 53% in the 2013-14 flu season. However, there are still patients who choose not to be vaccinated, possibly due to misinformation about vaccines.

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Help Close the Gap for Women on World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day, an opportunity to bring awareness to the fight against HIV and AIDS. This year, the focus of the UN AIDS campaign is “closing the gap,” which means ­providing prevention, treatment, care, and support services to all people.

Poster_ClosetheGAPWomen, particularly young women and pregnant women, are often more at risk for and more affected by HIV. Most cases of HIV infection in women are diagnosed in the reproductive years. According to UN AIDS, in 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.

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Collaborating with Nurse Practitioners

November 9-15 is National Nurse Practitioner Week, an event designed to recognize the contributions that nurse practitioners (NPs) make to our health care system. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), there are more than 192,000 NPs practicing in the US today, approximately 8% of whom focus on women’s health.

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Protecting the Patient-Physician Relationship: Why Ob-Gyns Need to Talk With Patients About Gun Safety

In order to deliver the best health care, ob-gyns must develop strong relationships with our patients. We need to discuss sensitive issues in the exam room, including sexual health, family planning, mental health, and domestic violence concerns. Keeping the line of communication unhindered allows physicians to provide the needed information to keep patients healthy.

That’s why a Florida law called the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, or the “physician gag law,” is so troubling. Continue reading

Improving Women’s Health through Vaccinations

As ob-gyns, we are entrusted with protecting women’s health, including providing preventive health care services. During an annual well-woman visit, each of us has an opportunity to discuss many topics: contraception, reproductive health, cardiovascular risk factors, healthy eating, exercise, smoking cessation, and more. It’s also an important time to discuss and provide necessary immunizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ACOG recommend vaccinations for adults throughout life. However, data from its National Health Interview Survey show that adults are not getting the immunizations they need. Continue reading

Getting Low-Income Women the Primary Care They Need

The value of the Medicaid program in ensuring care for low income women and families cannot be overstated. Nearly one out of every five woman in the US (19%) is insured by Medicaid. Yet the importance of the Medicaid program is undercut by the current biased payment system. Continue reading