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Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 2009 Jan;28(1):38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.annfar.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Dec 19.

[The seventh report of the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in the United Kingdom: comparison with French data].

[Article in French]

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Service d'anesthésie-réanimation, hôpital Bicêtre, AP-HP, 78, rue du Général-Leclerc, 94275 Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.



To describe the main results and recommendations from the seventh report on confidential enquiry into maternal death in the United Kingdom (UK) (2003-2005).


Comparison with the most recent French data (1999-2001).


Maternal mortality tends to increase and indirect causes are more common than direct causes. Causes of deaths and their respective ranking are strikingly different with what is observed in France. This can probably be ascribed to the increasing role of obesity, maternal age, tobacco use and diabetes in the UK. Cardiac disease now ranks first among indirect causes and is linked in half of cases to ischaemic heart disease. This contrasts with the French situation where cardiac death remains rare. Thromboembolic disease remains the main cause of direct deaths while the role of haemorrhage has decreased. This also contrasts with the French situation where haemorrhage remains of concern. Sepsis is now the second cause in the UK (at the same level than preeclampsia), while it is a rare cause in France. In both French and UK reports, substandard care remains of concern in many cases of direct deaths. Anaesthesia is now a rare cause of death (n=6) although the UK report emphasizes that in a large number of cases, anaesthesia has contributed to death because of substandard care (n=31). In many cases, the report highlights the deleterious role of unsupervised residents.


The United Kingdom report integrates modern strategies that might improve patient safety, including systems failure analysis, incident reporting and registries. Systematic auditing (with proposition of auditable standards) might also prove important in facilitating implementation of the top ten recommendations. All these strategies might also be implemented in France and hopefully might prove to be also beneficial here.

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