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What did fmr. US surgeon general and WISH med. expert say about ‘sobering report’ on women

Dr. Jerome Adams: 20% of woman reported “mistreatment” during maternity care

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Jerome Adams, the WISH-TV medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, talked Monday about a federal report saying about 20% of women reported mistreatment while getting maternity care.

“A very sobering report and, again, a great place to start by defining ‘mistreatment.’ It includes receiving no response to request for help, which is shocking when you think about a woman in labor, being shouted at or scolded, not having their physical privacy protected and being threatened, withholding treatment, or being made to accept unwanted treatment.

“So, they had very clear definitions of mistreatment, and 1 in 5 women on average reports experiencing some or more of these encounters.”

Adams found the numbers shocking but unfortunately not surprising. The negative experiences were even more common for Black, Hispanic and multiracial mothers: About 30% of Black and Hispanic mothers reported mistreatment during maternity care, and about 40% reported discrimination.

“And when you look at insurance type, women who have no insurance, 28% reported mistreatment compared to 16%; almost half that rate if you have private insurance. So, we’re discriminating against people based on their income, based on their insurance status, and based on the way that they look.”

Adams says health care systems need to do better at hiring a diverse workforce and also training their staffs to recognize their unconscious bias and stigma.

“I actually work, as many people know, at Eskenazi Health, and this is something that we try to maintain at all times given that we work with a diverse patient population. But again, these reports tell us that we’ve all got more work to do.”

Patients also are passing along their experiences with mistreatment to family and friends. Adams said a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report issued in December 2020, while he was surgeon general, noted that people need to support pregnant women who complain about symptoms and concerns.

“The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) actually has a campaign called the Hear Her Campaign that I would encourage people to check out. Know this signs and symptoms of problems, such as a headache that won’t go away or severe nausea or fever, and when a woman says that she’s not feeling right when she’s pregnant, hear her, listen to her, and support her because when you don’t you actually ruin trust in the system and you hurt their ability to be able to speak up, and you may also lead to bad outcomes for mom and baby.”


Indiana Department of Health reported Wednesday 17 additional deaths and more than 7,000 cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks.

“Numbers are skyrocketing, and I would tell people, make sure you’re taking precautions. If you’re high-risk, make sure you know it and make sure you are wearing a mask, and when you’re in settings that are unfamiliar to you or when you’re around other people, and if you have symptoms at all, if you’re suspicious you may have COVID, get tested, talk to your doctor, get treatment because it could keep you out of the hospital or worse.”

This story was created from an interview aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.