A federal investigation has been launched over Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s treatment of Black women giving birth.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the investigation is linked to allegations of racism and discrimination the hospital faced following the death of Kira Dixon Johnson in 2016. Kira Dixon Johnson died from internal bleeding following a c-section at Cedars-Sinai.
The federal investigation has been confirmed by an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The LA Times obtained a copy of a letter from the federal agency in which it told Kira Dixon Johnson’s husband, Charles Johnson, that it had knowledge of allegations related to the hospital’s treatment of Black women.
The Office of Civil Rights “has been made aware of concerns regarding the standard of care provided to Black women in the care of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,” the letter said. “Specifically, OCR is aware of allegations that Black women are provided a standard of care below what is provided to other women who are not Black when receiving health care services related to labor and delivery.”
Back in 2017 Johnson sued Cedars-Sinai and the doctor who attended to his wife while she was in the hospital. In the suit, he alleged wrongful death and emotional distress.
He then filed a civil rights suit against the hospital in Los Angeles County Superior Court. That suit accused Cedars-Sinai of providing lower quality care due to his wife being a Black woman. Both of those suits have since been settled.
The federal investigation into Cedars-Sinai is the latest development in the continued conversation around the state of Black women’s maternal health.
There have been continued calls for action regarding the maternal health crisis for Black women. This includes olympians Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison recently speaking out about their own pregnancy complications following the death of their teammate Frentorish “Tori” Bowie.
In June, a collective of over 50 Black-led organizations presented lawmakers with a detailed guide to help them better address the reproductive concerns of Black women, girls, and those who are gender expansive.
And in a recent All Things Considered interview with NPR’s Scott Detrow, nurse midwife Sheffield-Abdullah also shared that the Black community should be a key part of any conversations focused on solutions to the maternal health disparities of Black women.
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