Maternal Deaths During a Pilot Study Using Digitized Maternal Early Warning System

Partners in Digital Health
2 min readJun 15, 2022


India accounts for nearly one in six maternal deaths and over the last two decades, maternal mortality in India has decreased rapidly and faster than the global rate. However, the rate of decline has been slowing and further progress calls for new interventions and improvements in existing programs and the care-delivery process.


We developed and tested a telehealth solution that included an early warning system and a clinical decision support tool for timely detection of clinical deterioration and appropriate management of women in labor at a large general hospital in India. The pilot study with 15,184 patients was associated with a significant decrease in maternal mortality and in-hospital eclampsia. The results were published earlier this year. Here we examine and analyze the maternal deaths that occurred during that study period and discuss reasons why preventable deaths occurred despite the telehealth early warning system and recommend possible approaches to further reduce the maternal mortality rate.

Study Design

We carefully reviewed medical records of all maternal deaths during the two-year pilot from admission until death or transfer of these patients to a tertiary care center. We deconstructed the events leading to the adverse outcome and evaluated each based on the three delay modules for maternal deaths, namely seeking care, reaching the facility, and receiving care after reaching the facility.


Twelve maternal deaths occurred during the period of the study, six deaths occurred at the study sites and six deaths occurred after transport to a tertiary institution. Nine deaths were determined to be preventable. In five cases although multiple alerts were created indicating a clinical deterioration of the patients’ condition, lack of adequate knowledge and insufficient training on the part of the staff contributed to delays in initiating treatment and/or delays in timely transport. In all cases where the deaths occurred after the patient was transported, the warning system had identified the acute risk appropriately prior to the initiation of the transport. Considering all cases, the telehealth early warning system generated red alerts in every case, indicating an acute emergency (66.7%) and/or yellow alerts requiring continued observation (33.3%).

Read on to learn more!


  • Dr. Narmadha Kuppuswami | Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
  • Dr. Suresh Subramanian | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • Dr. Radharani Ravichandran | Wonder Healthcare Solutions



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