Early Pregnancy Loss in the Emergency Department
It is estimated that 1 in 5 individuals experience an early pregnancy loss, defined as a loss that occurs at less than 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Experiencing a pregnancy loss can be a very emotional and traumatic time for expectant parents. When patients first experience the symptoms of an early pregnancy loss, they frequently seek medical care in an Emergency Department (ED), however, because these cases still represent a small proportion of total ED visits (less than 1%), healthcare providers and other staff in the ED may not have as much experience treating them, in particular, addressing their emotional and bereavement needs.
The physical and emotional care that healthcare providers can offer to individuals experiencing an early pregnancy loss has an important impact on their long-term emotional well-being. As such, it is critical that healthcare providers working in EDs attend to the patients’ psychological and emotional needs in an empathetic, caring environment. Compassionate care acknowledges pregnancy loss as a loss of life and considers the spiritual, emotional and cultural expressions of the pain that accompanies the loss of a baby.
In January 2017, the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, in partnership with Health Quality Ontario and the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program, convened an Expert Advisory Panel, which was tasked with the development of recommendations for healthcare providers and staff, to guide the provision of compassionate care to patients presenting with a confirmed early pregnancy loss in the ED.
The recommendations, along with their accompanying implementation considerations and tools are available for download below. If you have any questions or comments about this work, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.