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July 26, 2018

More than 50,000 American mothers are severely injured giving birth every year. About 700 end up dying. And about half of those deaths and injuries would be preventable if hospitals simply provided better care, a USA Today investigation has found.

Those drastic numbers make the U.S. the most dangerous developed country to give birth in. But it's nearly impossible to pinpoint how things have gotten so bad, USA Today reports. Hospitals are falling short of recommended standards, and there's no national system to track their incompetence and hold them accountable.

USA Today looked at more than 500,000 hospital records and examined 150 disastrous births to reveal failing maternal care is a national crisis. There's no tracking system for doctors to record and learn from childbirth issues, patients with high blood pressure and blood loss aren't given prompt and proper care, and doctors and hospitals alike regularly miss or ignore obvious signs of pre- and post-natal complications, the investigation found.

All this negligence adds up to a sharp increase in maternal mortality rates, up from 17 deaths in 100,000 births in 1990 to 26.4 in 2015. The rest of the developed world saw steady or improved death rates, with many below 10 deaths per 100,000 births, USA Today found.

America's only exception to these devastating numbers is in California, where state regulations have cut mortality rates in half. The rest of the states have neglected to implement California-level standards, and regulators and oversight groups are just standing by as hospitals continue to fail new families. Read more about these devastating findings at USA Today. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 6, 2015

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is standing behind his plan to reduce water use primarily in urban spots as opposed to agricultural areas.

Brown announced mandatory drought restrictions last week, and wants towns and cities to cut their water use by at least 25 percent. Although the biggest water user in the state is agriculture, Brown is targeting parks, lawns, and golf courses. "Farmworkers who are at [the] very low end of the economic scale here are out of work," he said on Sunday's This Week. "There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering."

Brown argues that restricting water use on farms would negatively impact the state, saying, "If you don't want to produce any food and import it from some other place, of course you could do that." He does plan to look at water rights that permit some farms to purchase water at a lower cost than others. "Some people have a right to more water than others," he said. "That's historic. That's built into the legal framework of California. If things continue at this level, that's probably going to be examined, but as it is, we do live with a somewhat archaic water law situation." Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2014

Lock your keypads, people: Federal Communications Commission member Michael O'Rielly is "infuriated" over accidental wireless phone calls to 911, writing in his official blog that butt-dialing is becoming a serious issue in the United States.

While visiting the New York City and Anchorage Public Service Answering Points (PSAP), O'Rielly found that about 70 percent of 911 calls are made from wireless phones, and at least 50 percent of those are the result of accidental pocket dialing. "If my anecdotal experiences are remotely accurate, it would mean that approximately 84 million 911 calls a year are pocket dials," he wrote. "This is a huge waste of resources, raises the cost of providing 911 services, depletes PSAP morale, and increases the risk that legitimate 911 calls — and first responders — will be delayed."

O'Rielly wants to educate consumers about securing their devices, and one idea is to have a PSAP text a number when 911 is inadvertently dialed, letting the caller know what happened. "If consumers are alerted to the simple fact that they have dialed 911 accidentally, they may take precautions to prevent it from happening again," he wrote. There's also the option of having the butt-dialer pay a fee if they repeatedly call 911 by mistake. "I'm confident that if consumers realize that they are putting their friends, neighbors, and loved ones at greater risk, then they will change their practices," he said. Catherine Garcia

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