Severe maternal morbidity in Massachusetts

Despite efforts to improve, severe maternal morbidity (SMM) rates continue to rise and stark racial and ethnic inequities persist in Massachusetts. From 2011 to 2020, statewide SMM nearly doubled. During this 10-year period, Black non-Hispanic birthing people consistently demonstrated the highest SMM rates, with inequities increasing an average of 10.1 percent each year.

DPH SMM Figure4

An Assessment of Severe Maternal Morbidity in Massachusetts: 2011-2020, Massachusetts Department of Public Health


Advancing SMM data collection

The Betsy Lehman Center is leading an effort to improve SMM data collection, so maternal health providers can identify cases in a timely manner for quality improvement. Interested hospitals are now able to submit discharge data to the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) on a monthly basis, and our staff will analyze and share the data with provider teams within six to eight weeks. 

Until now hospitals have submitted discharge data to CHIA quarterly. The data is then released to the Betsy Lehman Center annually to analyze and create reports for hospitals with SMM data by race and ethnicity. The one-year lag hampers the ability of clinical teams to identify any needed improvements. Joining the pilot allows teams to make the most of SMM data as a tool to improve outcomes.

Join the pilot to improve SMM data collection and advance quality improvement efforts across the state!

Reach out to the Betsy Lehman Center if you are interested in joining the pilot. Please contact Julia.Prentice@BetsyLehmanCenterMA.gov or Godwin.Osei-Poku@BetsyLehmanCenterMA.gov to get started.