Fat fingers

Two years ago it was widely reported that the maternal mortality rate of Texas had shot up – more than doubled in fact to about 36 deaths per 100,000 births. The actual figure was 147 total deaths.

Now fresh research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that was false, and the true rate was 14.6 deaths per 100,000 births.

The reason for the mistake, which evoked much head-scratching and over-the-top calls for action, was – of course – human error.

The new research says: “Texas’ current electronic death registration system displays pregnancy status options as a dropdown list. The ‘pregnant at the time of death’ option is directly below the ‘not pregnant within the past year’ option; this could have led to erroneous selection…”

Picture source: David Veksler