Pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. Blockage usually is caused by a blood clot that travels to the lung from a vein in the leg. Because pulmonary embolism almost always occurs in conjunction with deep vein thrombosis, most doctors refer to the two conditions together as venous thromboembolism. Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening, but prompt treatment can greatly reduce the risk of death. In Norway the statistical analysis of pulmonary embolism was resulted as that found 26 maternal deaths during the period, 14 of which were due to direct causes and 12 to indirect causes.
The maternal mortality ratio was 8.7/100,000 live births. Fourteen of the deaths were registered in official statistics. Of the 12 deaths that were not included in the statistics, 11 were found through matching the registers and one had been reported directly by the hospital. The most common causes of death were hypertensive disorders during pregnancy (n = 6), thromboembolism (n = 4) and mental illness (n = 4). None of the deaths due to thromboembolism appeared in official statistics. We found a potential for improved medical care in 14 of 26 cases. Half of these were deaths due to hypertensive disorders during pregnancy or thromboembolism.