Virginia has a maternal mortality crisis. According to the Virginia Maternal Mortality Review Team Triennial Report, Virginia’s maternal mortality rate (pregnancy associated deaths) more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, from 37.1 deaths to 86.6 deaths per 100,000. Black women continue to experience higher pregnancy associated deaths than their White counterparts. Unconscious/implicit bias is a bias or prejudice that is present but not consciously held or recognized. We all have biases. We can't eliminate bias, but we can reduce the harm biases cause. Unconscious bias has long been identified as a factor contributing to lower health care quality for Black Americans. In their 2017 report, Unconscious Bias in Academic Medicine: How the Prejudices We Don’t Know We Have Affect Medical Education, Medical Careers, and Patient Health, the American Association of Medical Colleges found that patient care can improve when physicians explore their own biases and that evidence shows that interventions can reverse unconscious bias.
VICPP has been working for the last several years on an intervention to reduce bias; require evidence-based unconscious bias and cultural competency training for health care professionals. In the 2023 General Assembly, Delegate Head, R-Roanoke, and Senator Locke, D-Hampton, patroned bills to require training in evidence-based implicit bias and cultural competency for perinatal healthcare professionals. Both patrons are eager to work on comparable legislation in 2024 and with your help, we will pass a bill in the next session. As people of faith, we know that when we help the most vulnerable birthing families, we help ALL birthing families. Sign and share this position so your legislators know you support bills to require healthcare professionals to be trained in implicit bias and cultural competency. Did you experience bias when receiving health care? Please share your story when you personalize your letter to your legislator.