A civil rights investigation has been launched amid complaints of mistreatment from Black mothers who give birth at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The federal probe comes after Charles Johnson IV filed a lawsuit against the hospital in 2022. The civil rights suit was brought about following the 2016 death of his wife Kira, who was at Cedars-Sinai to give birth to their second son, according to CNN.
RELATED: Black & Native Mothers Most Impacted As Maternal Mortality Rates DOUBLE Since Late ’90s, Study Finds
Federal Probe Spurred By Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Against Cedars-Sinai Over 2016 Death
Kira Johnson ultimately died from massive internal bleeding after a routine cesarean section, autopsy records show.
According to ABC News, before Johnson’s death, her husband pleaded with medical staff to provide her proper care after noticing blood in her catheter. However, his pleas were allegedly “ignored,” and his wife was only attended to ten hours later, contributing to her passing.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says they are working “to ensure equity and equality in health care.”
“Maternal health is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and one in which the HHS Office for Civil Rights is working on around the country to ensure equity and equality in health care,” an HHS spokesperson told ABC News Wednesday. “To protect the integrity of this ongoing investigation, we have no further comment.”
The spokesperson added that the medical center is “concerned” about the disparities in maternal care between Black and non-Black mothers.
“Cedars-Sinai clinicians, leaders, and researchers have long been concerned with national disparities in Black maternal health, and we are proud of the work we’ve done (and continue to do) to address these issues in Los Angeles as well as at the state and national levels,” the spokesperson said.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is facing a federal civil rights investigation over how the Los Angeles hospital treats Black women who give birth there
The investigation comes after allegations of racism and discrimination emerged in the years after the death of Kira Dixon Johnson pic.twitter.com/r2fiI5tzsS
— Black AF News (@blackafnews) July 11, 2023
The Numbers: How Many Black Women Are Dying From Childbirth Compared To Non-Black Women?
The numbers certainly support a racial disparity, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control report.
In 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.
That’s nearly three times the rate of non-Hispanic White women. Those rates increase with age, according to the agency.
— Directoryof Red Deer (@reddeerdir) July 12, 2023
Meanwhile, maternal death rates for Black women in the United States have continued to spike for decades, per CNN.
The CDC ultimately found several factors behind such racial disparities, which included “implicit bias” and “structural racism.”
Hospital Seeks Solutions For Disparity, Including $2.2M In Grants, Training On Unconscious Bias
A spokesperson said Cedars-Sinai will be distributing over $2.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that deal with racial disparities in childbirth mortality rates, according to ABC News.
The hospital will also hold annual training on unconscious bias to address the growing racial disparity in maternal care.
The spokesperson added that the medical center will work with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative to create “standardized treatment protocols for the most common causes of maternal morbidity and mortality,” the outlet reports.
According to ABC News, Johnson has since shared a statement regarding his efforts for hospital reform.
“My hope is that this will have an impact not only on what’s happening at Cedars-Sinai but other hospitals across the country.”