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ACOG Statement on CDC Data on Respectful Care


Washington, D.C.—The following is a statement from Verda Hicks, MD, FACOG, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

“Data released today from the CDC on respectful care adds to existing evidence that emphasizes how critical it is that we continue our efforts to eliminate racial health inequities in maternal health care. As the CDC report notes, maternal mortality review committees in states across the country have identified discrimination as one factor contributing to pregnancy-related deaths, which have tragically increased in the last few years. The fact that 40% of the Black, Hispanic, and multiracial survey respondents reported discrimination and 30% reported mistreatment underscores the need for all health care professionals, including obstetrician–gynecologists, to identify, examine, and address their own racial biases that are negatively affecting the delivery of quality health care and, ultimately, costing lives.

“ACOG is committed to educating and providing resources to its members on the principles of respectful care and sharing how the historical foundations of obstetrics and gynecology, which are rooted in the oppression of marginalized communities, drive the need to develop and maintain a culture of patient safety that values equity, patient-inclusive teamwork, and open communication that includes shared decision-making.

“To improve maternal health outcomes, it is imperative that pregnant and postpartum patients feel comfortable communicating with members of their health care team. The fact that nearly half of the survey respondents said they held back on discussing concerns or asking questions because “their health care provider seemed rushed” or they didn’t want to appear “difficult” demonstrates that we must work harder to provide more patient-centered care. Resources such as Urgent Maternal Warning Signs are specifically designed to educate and empower patients and their support networks to communicate about pregnancy complications that they might be reluctant to mention. Patients are the experts on their own bodies and lived experiences and their concerns can be the first warning sign of conditions that can often be fatal.

“ACOG is able to further this work through the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a national quality improvement initiative that aims to make birth safer and improve outcomes. Respectful care, which is centered on concepts of equity, is infused into all of AIM’s evidence-informed best practices on how to address common pregnancy-related conditions. This work has been ongoing, and ACOG remains committed to its efforts in respectful care, which aren’t yet captured in the newly released CDC data.”