Any death of a woman that occurs during the entire period of pregnancy and 42 days after delivery or termination of a pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death, is deemed a maternal death.
This is in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s regulations, details of which were recently provided to the National Assembly by Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence.
Based on the information provided to the House by the Minister, it is imperative that an autopsy is required for every maternal death in Guyana.
“On occurrence of the death of a woman who is pregnant or was pregnant within the last 42 days prior to death, the certifying officer (registered physician or Medex) must inform the Chief Medical Officer within 24 hours of the death,” the Minister shared.
She went on to point out that a notification of death form must be completed for all maternal deaths and submitted as part of the notification process. But in the event that the maternal death occurs outside of Georgetown, the certifying officer may inform the Chief Medical Officer’s office initially via telephone, fax, radio, telex or email within 24 hours of the death.
However, based on the regulations the Minister shared, the official notification of death form must be submitted and received by the Chief Medical Officer’s office no later than 72 hours after a maternal death.
But in the event that the certifying officer is unable to obtain the official notification of death form, the certifying officer may submit a written note stating the deceased name, address, date of birth, age, the date, time and place of death, duration of pregnancy and the antecedent cause of death, if known.
This, the minister shared, must be followed by the submission of the official notification of death form no later than seven days after death.
It was revealed, too, that once a maternal death has occurred at an institution, whether public or private, or prior to arrival at that institution, a full internal investigation must be conducted and a report of the investigation must also be submitted to the Chief Medical Officer before the end of seven days after the maternal death.
The report, it was pointed out, must include a section of recommendations made by the reporting institution of actions to be taken to improve the management of pregnancy in the institution or by providers outside of institutions.
Therefore, when a maternal death occurs at a private physician’s office or at the office of a health care provider providing service in a private capacity or at the deceased person’s home, the health care provider must complete the official notification of death form and submit the form to the Chief Medical Officer within 24 hours.
Additionally, the Chief Medical Officer could be contacted by telephone, fax or email within 24 hours after which the official notification of death form can be submitted within 72 hours after the death occurred.
Meanwhile, the regulation stipulates that any death of a pregnant woman that occurred at a private physician’s office or at home where the woman was in the care of a person providing service in his or her own capacity would be subjected to an independent investigation by the Chief Medical Officer.
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