Press Release

Leading Nursing Organization Secures Grant Funding to Prevent Maternal Deaths
AWHONN Launches a Multi-Year Initiative to Improve the Treatment of Obstetric Hemorrhage

Washington D.C., November 19, 2013 - Women in the United States have a greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications than women in 46 other countries, including Bosnia and Kuwait.  In fact, two to three women die every day in the U.S. of pregnancy-related complications, and more than half of these deaths are preventable.  The leading cause of these deaths is obstetric hemorrhage and addressing this critical issue is the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).

Recent increases in obstetric hemorrhage are significant and worrisome.  Between 1999 and 2009, the number of women hospitalized during childbirth who also received blood transfusions increased by 183%.  This increase is associated with an overuse of inductions of labor.  African American women are disproportionately affected by birthing complications with three to four times more deaths than women of all other racial and ethnic groups.

"Maternal death is a tragedy that can often be prevented by timely access to evidence-based treatments," said AWHONN's CEO Karen Peddicord, PhD, RN.  "AWHONN is launching a new postpartum hemorrhage project to address birthing complications and systematically reduce treatment errors so that mothers and babies are safer."

AWHONN's Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) Project is supported by a grant from Merck for Mothers.  The program will start as a demonstration project among hospitals in the District of Columbia, Georgia and New Jersey.  AWHONN will perform a state-wide baseline assessment and hospitals will apply to participate in a learning collaborative.  The PPH Project is designed to:

    • increase clinician recognition of women at greatest risk of obstetric hemorrhage;
    • increase early recognition of which women are bleeding too much;
    • increase the readiness of clinical team preparedness to successfully respond to obstetric hemorrhage; and
    • track clinician response to obstetric hemorrhage for improving future performance.

Additional practice improvements will include identifying barriers to treating obstetric hemorrhage, sharing clinical best practices, and identifying how to more effectively implement similar improvements in all hospitals in the United States.



The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the foremost nursing authority that advances the health care of women and newborns through advocacy, research and the creation of high quality, evidence-based standards of care.  AWHONN's 24,000 members worldwide are clinicians, educators and executives who serve as patient care advocates focusing on the needs of women and infants.  A leader in professional development, AWHONN holds the distinction of twice receiving the Premier Program award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for innovation and excellence in Continuing Nursing Education (CNE).  Founded in 1969 as the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the association became a separate nonprofit organization called the Association of Women's Health and Neonatal Nurses in 1993.

Project Overview

Improve PPH care through quality improvement methods and collaboration


Learn more about our geographic areas of focus

Participating Hospitals

View the list of participating hospitals & meetings


Access more information on best practices for postpartum hemorrhage


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