Maternal mortality rate in Potchefstroom Hospital, 2000-2002: How can these risk for mothers be reduced? [Moederlike mortaliteitskoers in Potchefstroom Hospitaal, 2000-2002: Hoe kan hierdie risiko's vir moeders verlaag word?]
Background: The aim of this study was to determine the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Potchefstroom Hospital, situated in North-West Province, for 2000-2002. The main causes of maternal deaths in Potchefstroom Hospital were determined and compared to the main causes for maternal deaths nationally. Methods: Data were collected in a retrospective manner from Potchefstroom Hospital's yearbooks and statistics, 2000-2002. The number of deliveries per month, the total number of maternal deaths and the main causes for these deaths were recorded. Results: The MMR for Potchefstroom Hospital in 2000-2002 was 354.7/100000 live births, compared to the estimated MMR for SA in 1999-2001 of 170-200/100 000 live births. The main causes of maternal deaths in Potchefstroom Hospital include non-pregnancy-related infection (mainly AIDS), complications of hypertension in pregnancy, obstetrical haemorrhage, pre-existing maternal disease and pregnancy-related sepsis. Conclusions: The main causes for maternal deaths in Potchefstroom Hospital correlated well with the main causes nationally. Of interest was that, compared to national statistics, there was a higher percentage of indirect causes of maternal death (mainly due to HIV/AIDS) than direct causes of deaths in Potchefstroom Hospital. However, it has been observed nationally that the percentage of indirect deaths compared to direct deaths is on the increase. This national trend is caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. General recommendations are made, which can be instituted to help lower the MMR in Potchefstroom Hospital and nationally.