AAFP Applauds ACOG Efforts to Address Maternal Mortality

Looks Forward to Collaborating to Improve Quality of and Access to Obstetrical Care in Rural America

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Statement attributable to:
John Cullen, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The increasing rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. is an important public health issue that must be addressed. In the November issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, our colleagues at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have posited several recommendations on how hospitals, physicians, and other clinicians might begin to act to combat this growing concern.

“We applaud this effort by our colleagues to make a meaningful impact on maternal mortality and morbidity, and we are generally supportive of their efforts and the four-step approach outlined in the article ‘What We Can Do about Maternal Mortality—And How to Do it Quickly.’(www.nejm.org) However, regarding the fourth point, we would encourage the authors to ensure an equal focus on improving care at all levels and in all hospitals, as well as relying on transfer as appropriate. It’s vitally important to create an environment that will help rural hospitals care for women who want to remain in their communities and to handle inevitable obstetrical emergencies.  

“Among their recommendations, the authors suggest that ACOG and the American Academy of Family Physicians collaborate ‘on an additional year of comprehensive training for family medicine physicians who are considering practicing obstetrics in rural areas.’ The article rightly points out family physicians regularly provide maternity care to pregnant women and their families, especially in rural areas.

“It’s important to note the current education and training requirements for family physicians prepares them to provide obstetrical care to their patients. During their three-year family medicine residency, family physicians receive training and demonstrate the skills and competencies required to deliver high-quality maternity care in any community, including those in rural settings.

“The AAFP very much looks forward to collaborating with ACOG to encourage growth in the physician workforce for our rural communities—among both obstetricians and family physicians who provide obstetrical care—in whatever form that collaboration may take.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Cullen, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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