Can injured pregnant women benefit from care at trauma centers?

Around 8 percent of expectant mothers suffer traumatic injuries such as fractures and open wounds that typically arise from falls or car accidents. A recent study has suggested pregnant women who sustain traumatic injuries may experience better outcomes when treated at trauma centers instead of non-trauma hospitals.

According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, receiving care at a trauma center puts mothers at a lower risk for prematurity, preterm labor, delivering low birth weight babies and having meconium at childbirth. Meconium is a sign of fetal distress. Complications such as preterm birth can lead to birth injuries if doctors are unable to delay labor and provide adequate medical care.

“Previous research has shown that even minor injuries in pregnancy can result in serious maternal and neonatal morbidity,” said U.S. Army Preventive Medicine physician John T. Distelhorst, who co-authored the study. “In cases of injury, pregnant women have had poor neonatal outcomes, so we wanted to know whether the trauma system could better help these women.”

Trauma centers are designated medical facilities that specialize in monitoring injured patients and meeting their needs. Receiving care at such centers has appeared to reduce the risk of death and improved post-injury outcomes among non-pregnant populations. However, there has been little research into the benefits of trauma center care for pregnant women.

The study, which focused on Washington State, found that pregnant women who were treated at specialized trauma centers decreased their chances of preterm labor by 40 percent. Outcomes for other neonatal complications also saw improvement. The researchers hope their findings will lead to better care for injured pregnant women and help different states improve their trauma systems, which vary from one place to another.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If you or your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.