NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Local hospitals are working to figure out what needs to be done to improve the mortality rate among Arkansas women during pregnancies. In a recent CDC study, it was discovered that more women die during childbirth here in the state than in any other state in the U.S.



Northwest Health took initiative and this month announced a new technology being used to decrease the risk of death in expecting mothers. The new tech is called PeriWatch Vigilance. It continuously monitors maternal vital signs, fetal heart rate, contractions and labor progression to help medical personnel know when there’s an issue.

“That pulls data from charts we use for moms and babies and can interpret that data to give us warning signs and rank patients according to their risk,” said Manager of Labor and Delivery for Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, Christine Brett.

This will help clinicians identify potential complications early on for quick intervention.

“Everyone gets alerted if any patient in the hospital has an abnormal vital sign or a fetal heart rate is showing signs of distress. So, it gives us an extra set of eyes on all patients,” Brett said.



Northwest Health delivers more than 3,000 babies each year. The team is hoping this technology will help hospital staff identify areas of improvement and develop more protocols in the future that will lead to safer pregnancies for mothers and their babies.

Dr. David Deschamps is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at The Perinatal Clinic and the chair of the Women’s and Children’s Department for Mercy. His clinic specifically caters to mothers that are in high-risk pregnancies. He prides his clinic and Mercy clinics on working hard to make sure the mother is safe.

“Their future planning to bring in more sub-specialists, more primary care physicians will only improve the health I think of the patient population and provide a better ability for us to take care of these patients locally,” Deschamps said.

According to Deschamps, even a low-risk pregnancy can lead to complications. For him, planning and education across the board is key.

“Even in the lowest risk situation, understanding what are things that could go wrong? What should I ask my provider about? If this happens, we’ve read about this– what do we do to fix that problem? What happens if this happens during labor? Don’t be afraid to ask those questions,” Deschamps said.