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U.S. ranks worse than many other countries for infant mortality

In the United States there has historically been a sense that our health care system was one of the best in the world. This may be true in some areas as we do have some of the most advanced lifesaving technologies and practices. But a recent study by the World Health Organization shows that our fetal mortality rate ranks us as 40th.

There are a number of factors that contribute to this troubling result and high infant death rate. Among them is the high rate of hospital errors related to lab and medication errors. If a medical professional is negligent when dispensing medication it can quickly put an otherwise healthy newborn at risk. An error when handling test results in a hospital lab can lead to a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a serious complication.

The United States had the 12th lowest infant mortality rate in 1960, by 2009 it had dropped to 29th place. Since 2009 it has dropped to 40th place. While the neonatal death rate in the U.S. has dropped in the last 20 years, out progress has not kept pace with other nations. In the last ten years the rate has dropped only slightly.

Another factor leading to the high infant mortality rate is the lack of insurance facing many pregnant women. They feel that comprehensive neonatal care is simply unaffordable without insurance.

Regardless of a mother's income or insurance, when she is being treated by a physician, it is the responsibility of that doctor to care for the mother and the newborn in a safe manner.

Source: International Business Times "More Infants Die Early in US than in 40 Countries, Including Cuba: WHO Study" Sangeeta Mukherjee. Aug. 31, 2011

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