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'Deadly Deliveries' wins national health journalism award

The Association of Health Care Journalists honored USA TODAY's 'Deadly Deliveries' investigation of maternity care with a first place award in its annual contest.

Here's what AHCJ had to say about the series:

First Place: Deadly Deliveries; Alison Young, John Kelly, Christopher Schnaars, USA Today

While much of the national discussion around the United States’ abysmal rate of maternal deaths and injuries has focused on the larger societal ills such as obesity and access to prenatal care, Deadly Deliveries zeroed in on one shocking and uncomfortable truth: Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it. Across the nation, women giving birth needlessly die and suffer life-altering injuries because of substandard medical care, the USA Today investigation revealed. USA Today's first-of-its-kind analysis of hospital billing data from 7 million births found that about one in eight hospitals have complication rates of at least double the norm.

Judges' comments: Maternal mortality in the U.S. has received much attention in the last several years, but USA Today’s “Deadly Deliveries” brings a new — and deeply disquieting — perspective to the topic. Piercing the secrecy that has shielded quality-of-care at individual hospitals, the paper identified 120 centers with high rates of severe, but often preventable, complications that can lead to injury or death. Strikingly, the investigation found that, contrary to past explanations blaming patient demographics for these complications, hospitals’ lax practices also played a significant role. The impact of the series goes beyond expose: The paper created an online database, making public records from 1,027 hospitals in 13 states. Additionally, a national accrediting agency has instituted new training and equipment requirements.

The full list of winners can be found here.

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