January 17, 2024

Patient Safety Beat

Patient safety news and progress in Massachusetts

Q&A: The state’s first Assistant Commissioner for Health Equity lays out actions for improving maternal health

Hafsatou Fifi Diop, M.D., M.P.H., brings years of experience working to improve maternal health and reduce racial disparities in health care to her new role as the inaugural Assistant Commissioner of Health Equity at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In this conversation with Patient Safety Beat, she discusses actions the state is taking related to maternal health services, effective use of data and the importance of collaborating with community members and other stakeholders.

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Massachusetts will designate hospital “Levels of Maternal Care” to improve health outcomes for higher-risk patients

The Department of Public Health will require licensed birthing hospitals to use a system called Levels of Maternal Care that classifies hospitals based on their capacity to meet the needs of patients with a range of potential complications during childbirth. The goal is to stem the rising rates of severe maternal morbidity in high-risk pregnancies by ensuring patients can be served at hospitals with the infrastructure to deliver appropriate and safe care.


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State releases new survey of patient and family engagement in perinatal units

Can birthing hospitals successfully use patient and family engagement in perinatal units to better maternal health outcomes? Massachusetts aims to find out. The recently published Patient and Family Engagement in Massachusetts Perinatal Hospitals report is an effort to better understand current engagement practices in perinatal units with the goal of informing future supports for incorporating the patient and family voice into maternal health care services. The reports’ findings are an aggregate summary of responses from participating birthing hospitals surveyed in the state measuring four domains: commitment, transparency, representation and impact.

Read the report

Upcoming events

Jan. 19

12 - 1:30 p.m.

Promoting Proper Practices: Protecting Health Care Workers and Patients in Health Care Facilities. A webinar offering infection control guidance including the use of personal protective equipment, laboratory tests and antibiotic prescriptions in challenging clinical scenarios. Presented by the Massachusetts Medical Society in collaboration with the American Medical Association. Register here

Jan. 24

5:30 - 7 p.m.

State of Black Maternal Health roundtable discussion. A virtual discussion, the first in a series of roundtables on the state of Black maternal health in Massachusetts. Presented by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Region 1 (New England), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Ellen Story Commission on Postpartum Depression. Register here

Patient Safety Beat is published by the Betsy Lehman Center, a Massachusetts state agency that supports providers, patients and policymakers working together to advance the safety and quality of health care.


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