Audit of early and late maternal deaths in Georgia: Potential for improving substandard obstetric care

Nino Berdzuli (Coresponding Author), Nino Lomia, Anne Cathrine Staff, Gunta Lazdane, Ekaterine Pestvenidze, Anne Flem Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Quality of care is an important factor in reducing preventable maternal deaths, yet it is a significant challenge in many countries. Substandard and poor quality of care is the leading factor in two-thirds of maternal deaths in European countries. Our study investigated the deaths of all women of reproductive age in 2012 in Georgia. The aim was to define the underlying causes of maternal deaths and to identify the factors in women’s care which contributed to the fatal outcomes. Methods: A national Reproductive Age Mortality Survey was conducted in Georgia in 2014–15. Data from multiple sources was triangulated to identify all deaths of women of reproductive age. This was followed by verbal autopsy diagnoses. Each case of early and late maternal death was investigated through interviews and medical record reviews at the last medical facility providing care for the deceased woman. A specialist panel reviewed and assigned underlying causes of death, assessed the management of each woman’s condition, and identified elements of suboptimal care. Results: We identified a total of 23 maternal deaths, including 15 (65%) early and eight (35%) late deaths. The maternal mortality ratio was 26.3 per 100 000 live births. The four leading causes of early maternal deaths were: sepsis, hemorrhage, embolism, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Embolism and sepsis were the direct causes of the eight late maternal deaths. Cancer, tuberculosis, and postpartum suicide constituted the indirect causes of death. Improvements in care which would have made a difference to the outcomes were identified in 87% of early maternal deaths and 67% of late maternal deaths due to direct obstetric causes. Discussion: Delayed recognition and inappropriate management of maternal complications were common across almost all cases studied. The findings from Georgia highlight the conclusion that most maternal deaths were preventable and that improvement in obstetric care is urgently required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021


  • Cause of death
  • Late maternal death
  • Maternal death preventability
  • Maternal mortality
  • Quality of care

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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