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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Joins Nationwide Initiative to Prevent Maternal Deaths during Pregnancy and Birth

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Launches Multi-year, Three-pronged Initiative to Improve Treatment of Obstetric Hemorrhage

July 23, 2014

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Obstetric hemorrhage (bleeding too much during childbirth) is one of the leading causes of death during labor and delivery. With U.S. women experiencing a greater risk of death from pregnancy-related complications than women in 46 other countries, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) launched a multiyear, three-pronged initiative focused on improving the treatment of pregnancy-related complications, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is among the 54 hospitals partnering for this project.


“AWHONN’s Postpartum Hemorrhage Project gives us an incredible opportunity to improve quality of care here and nationwide,” says Carla Boyle, nursing director, Perinatal Services at RWJUH. “Right now, there are several different ways to determine women’s blood loss and the potential for blood loss, and they all give us only estimates. This team will come together to determine a standard mechanism through which we can better identify potential cases of post-partum hemorrhage and treat emergency cases. “


Among the 54 hospitals participating in this project, there were more than 125,000 births in 2012. Obstetric hemorrhage can occur for a number of reasons, including pre-existing conditions, Boyle explains. Obstetric hemorrhage is not the norm, but it happens often enough to warrant a closer look to improve care for our patients, she adds.


While two to three women die every day in the U.S. from pregnancy-related complications, more than half of these deaths are preventable.


“Robert Wood Johnson is leading the charge for improving pregnancy and delivery care for women in New Jersey,” said Cindy Ferraro, MSN, RNC, APN.C, administrative director of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at RWJUH. “We’re honored to participate in this initiative for improving health care for women and their newborns.”


Incidents of obstetric hemorrhage have increased in recent years along with an overuse of inductions of labor. Research suggests that women who have inductions of labor have a greater risk of experiencing postpartum hemorrhage.  Between 1999 and 2009, the number of women who received blood transfusions during and immediately after childbirth increased by 183 percent.  African American women are disproportionately affected by birthing complications with three to four times more deaths than women of all other racial and ethnic groups.


“Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital will help to identify clinical best practices for treating postpartum hemorrhage and work with national experts to share knowledge as part of the Postpartum Hemorrhage Project,” said AWHONN’s CEO, Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN.  “Their participation is crucial for reducing preventable maternal deaths and making mothers and babies safer.”


Supported by a grant from Merck for Mothers, AWHONN’s Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) Project is designed to:

•             increase clinician recognition of women at greatest risk of obstetric hemorrhage;

•             increase early recognition of women who are bleeding too much;

•             increase the readiness of clinical team preparedness to successfully respond to obstetric hemorrhage;

•             and improve clinician response to obstetric hemorrhage.

Additional practice improvements will include identifying barriers to treating obstetric hemorrhage, sharing clinical best practices, and identifying how to more effectively implement similar improvements in all hospitals in the United States.




The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the foremost nursing authority that advances the health care of women and newborns through advocacy, research and the creation of high quality, evidence-based standards of care. AWHONN strives to represent the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women's health, obstetric and neonatal nursing nationwide.

AWHONN's 24,000 members worldwide are clinicians, educators and executives who serve as patient care advocates focusing on the needs of women and infants. A leader in professional development, AWHONN holds the distinction of receiving the Premier Program award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for innovation and excellence in Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) three times.


Founded in 1969 as the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the association became a separate nonprofit organization called the Association of Women's Health and Neonatal Nurses in 1993.