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Gov. Stitt signs bill requiring investigations, reports of maternal deaths in Oklahoma

Suhyeon Choi

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law intending to reduce Oklahoma’s growing maternal death rate.

House Bill 2152, authored by Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) and Sen. Jo Anna Dossett (D-Tulsa), requires hospitals to make a reasonable effort to report all maternal deaths to the Chief Medical Examiner within 72 hours.

“With better data, the (Oklahoma Maternal Mortality Review Committee) can help us implement better strategies to reduce maternal deaths in Oklahoma,” Dossett said in a press release.

A once-optional practice is now mandatory under HB 2152 — reported deaths must be investigated. The results from those reports will be sent to the Oklahoma Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which meets to review pregnancy-associated deaths and work on ways to prevent them.

The bill also decreases the membership of the committee from 25 to 11. Roe explained this change during a House floor meeting in April.

“Apparently, (the committee has) had issues of having enough members showing up for meetings, and then it was difficult to get a hearing on the Senate side because of the board membership being so large,” Roe said.

Members will now include the following individuals:

  • The chair of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • The president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • The medical director for the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative
  • The director of the Maternal and Child Health Service of the State Department of Health
  • The chair of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
  • The executive director of the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board
  • The director of the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative
  • The administrative program manager of the Maternal and Child Health Service Perinatal and Reproductive Health Division

Three members will be appointed by the State Commissioner of Health to serve two-year terms:

  • A physician who is a member of the Oklahoma State Medical Association or the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association
  • A maternal-fetal medicine physician
  • An individual who has been affected by pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated deaths, severe maternal morbidity, and/or lack of access to maternal health care services

Oklahoma’s maternal mortality rate is on the rise, according to the most recent report from the Oklahoma Maternal Health Task Force. It went from 25.2 mothers per 100,000 live births during the 2018-2020 reporting period to 31 per 100,000 from 2019-2021.

"Maternal mortality is unfortunately a serious issue that many Oklahoma families and health care providers are still struggling to understand," Roe said in the release. "House Bill 2152 is a prime example of working across the aisle to improve the lives of all Oklahomans, and I'm glad to see strong support for the bill from both chambers."

HB 2152 was developed by the Oklahoma Maternal Mortality Review Committee, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma Maternal Health Task Force, Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

It becomes effective Nov. 1.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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