Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Health Care & Wellness Committee

HB 2885

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Establishing a maternal mortality review panel.

Sponsors: Representatives Stambaugh, Cody, Caldier, Smith, Van Werven, Wilson, Robinson and Ormsby.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Establishes a maternal mortality review panel to conduct reviews of maternal deaths in Washington and make recommendations for system changes and legislation relating to the delivery of health care in Washington.

Hearing Date: 2/2/16

Staff: Chris Blake (786-7392).


The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data related to pregnancy-related deaths. The data is collected by the CDC through the submission by each state of death certificates for all women who die during pregnancy or within one year of pregnancy. In addition, states submit corresponding birth certificates or fetal death certificates when making such a match is possible. About 600 women in the United States die each year due to pregnancy or delivery-related complications. Since the CDC began collecting in 1986, the trend in pregnancy-related mortality has increased from 7.2 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 15.9 in 2012.

Summary of Bill:

A maternal mortality review panel (panel) is established to conduct comprehensive, multidisciplinary reviews of maternal deaths in Washington. The term "maternal mortality" means the death of a woman while pregnant or within one year following the end of pregnancy, whether or not death is the result of the pregnancy.

The panel is appointed by the Secretary of Health (Secretary) and must include an obstetrician, a physician specializing in maternal fetal medicine, a neonatologist, a midwife, an advanced registered nurse practitioner who practices in obstetrics, a Department of Health (Department) representative who works in the field of maternal and child health, a Department of epidemiologist with experience analyzing perinatal data, a medical examiner, a representative of community mental health centers, and a member of the public.

Health care providers, health care facilities, clinics, laboratories, and medical examiners must report maternal deaths to the panel and the Secretary. If a root cause analysis of a maternal death has been completed, those findings must also be submitted to the panel.

The panel must make recommendations for system changes to improve health care services for women in Washington. Beginning July 1, 2017, the panel must submit an annual report to the Secretary and legislative health care committees. The report must include a description of the adverse events reviewed by the panel in the prior year, including statistics and causes; corrective action plans to address adverse events; and recommendations for system changes and legislation relating to the delivery of health care in Washington.

The panel's proceedings, records, and opinions are confidential and not subject to Public Records Act requirements. Members of the panel may not be questioned in any civil or criminal proceeding related to information or opinions associated with meetings of the panel.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on January 27, 2016.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.